What is amblyopia?
If the visual acuity is decreased in both eyes, a child clearly shows signs of poor vision so parents seek a medical examination. But if the vision is poor in only one eye, parents do not notice the problem; the child uses the better eye and unconsciously ignores the weaker eye. In such a process , the brain takes the information coming from the better eye and due to the fact that cannot merge two different images, information from the weaker eye is suppressed leading to the development of amblyopia, i.e. delay in the development of the eye that is not used.
If this is happening at an early age when the brain and the eye are not yet developed, vision in the affected eye may remain very weak as weaker eye is being neglected from the normal development. The chance that a child will have such a problem is higher if someone in the family has a similar problem.
Treatment of amblyopia
When amblyopia or, as some call it, a lazy eye is detected, it is necessary to prescribe appropriate correction with eyeglasses and perform patching (occlusion) of a healthy eye in order to force the child to use the weaker eye for watching, and thereby, to develop. The period of prescribed patching depends on the depth of amblyopia and the age of the child, and it extends from one hour to six hours a day.
The patch (occluders) must cover the whole eye and noteyeglasses in order to prevent the child to peek on the sides. It has been verified that the effect of occlusion is better if the child is doing something at the reading distance (drawing, reading, playing computer games). Taking into account that children often resist wearing the patch, it takes a lot of patience and persistence in order to achieve the desired effect. Child who has low vision on affected eye will resist more on closing of the better eye than the child with not so bad visual acuity. For parents thatcan be a sign to have even more persistence and patience.
In some cases, strabismus surgery has a positive effect on the amblyopia. If amblyopia is detected in the older age of the child, a chance for vision improvement and development is lower. In children in early age, eye and vision centers in the brain are still in the sensitive (plastic phase), and cells are still able to learn how to watch and process visual information and make up for lost time.