What Is Amblyopia (Lazy Eyes) In Babies?

Lazy Eyes in Babies
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How do I know if there is amblyopia in my child?


What Is Amblyopia (Lazy Eyes)?


Amblyopia (also known as lazy eyes) develops when the brain shuts off vision in one eye or suppresses it. This can happen if the eyes of your child are misaligned or if, due to nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or something that blocks clear vision in that eye, like a cataract or a drooping eyelid, she can not see with one eye as well.

Amblyopia occurs in about 3 to 6 percent of children under the age of 6. Before age 5 or 6, treatment is most successful, although recent research has shown that even older children can recover their vision. (However, recovery in an older child is less assured.) If ignored, amblyopia may lead to permanent loss of vision. 


Causes Of Amblyopia (Lazy Eyes)


Amblyopia or lazy eyes usually begins when one eye is much more focused than the other. One is sometimes more far-sighted or has a lot of astigmatisms, but not the other. When the brain of your child gets both a blurry image and a clear one, the blurry one begins to be ignored. If this happens in a young child for months or years, the blurry eye’s vision will get worse. 

Sometimes the eyes of a child are not aligned as they should. One might turn in or out. This strabismus will be called by the doctor, and it can also lead to amblyopia. Children who have it cannot concentrate their eyes on an image together, so they often see double. If your child has it, the image from the eye that is not aligned will be ignored by her brain. Vision is going to get worse in that eye. This misalignment has resulted in the term “lazy eye.” 

How do I know if there is amblyopia (lazy eyes) in my child?


It’s not easy to identify the problem because only one eye can help children get along well. The less-used eye may look perfectly normal, although it may not be seen by your child.

Your child’s doctor should check the eyes independently and together for amblyopia (as well as strabismus) on a routine basis.

Moms are often the best screeners around because they are so connected to their kids and often notice something that isn’t quite right earlier than any doctor. It’s also a good idea to sometimes test the vision in the eyes of your child at home.


How can amblyopia (lazy eyes)  be tested at home?


Here’s a simple way to get an idea of whether the eyes of your child both pull their weight:

Cover one of the eyes of your child (it helps to have a partner for that). Hold an object in front of her (such as a little teddy bear or a picture or letter to an older child).

See if she follows the object as you move it from side to side and up and down with her uncovered eye. (You can ask an older child to tell you what the letter is or ask her about the picture or the object.) Then cover the other eye and see if she’s just as well following the object–and so far.

Testing a baby that might lose interest or get distracted before your informal test is over is a little tricky. But if one eye appears weaker, try another time to test it–perhaps starting with the other eye. 

If your child appears to be able to see better with one eye than the other consistently, schedule a vision screening test appointment with either your child’s doctor or an ophthalmologist who can diagnose the problem and treat it.

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Babies ‘Amblyopia Eye Treatment


The first step is to deal with any underlying problems, for example by removing glass astigmatism or vision or a cataract by surgery. Once this is taken care of, the goal is to encourage the brain of your child to connect with the weaker eye, ultimately enhancing their ability to see.

If your child has amblyopia because of a need for glasses, the glasses will act as a camera lens and help to focus objects on the back of the eye. Wearing them gives the brain a clearer image that can improve the connection between the eye and the brain. But if the eyes of your child naturally focus light properly, glasses will not help with the amblyopia. 

Instead, your doctor will probably recommend covering the stronger eye of your child with a patch or using eye drops once a day to blur the vision in that eye. Either of these will force the brain to use the weaker eye. It may take weeks, months, or even years.

Some kids aren’t able to see well from one eye because something blocks light from getting through. It may be a cataract in the back of the eye or a small amount of blood or other material.

If you have amblyopia (lazy eyes) in your family, it is more likely that your child will get it. Remember, if she has it, you can’t just tell her by looking at her. The key to good results is early diagnosis and treatment.

Most kids will gain vision with early diagnosis and treatment. After about 7-9 years of age, amblyopia becomes much harder to treat, so make sure your child receives early eye exams. And follow your doctor’s therapy advice, even if it’s difficult. Every day, most children don’t want to wear an eye patch. Ask your doctor if your child’s atropine is an option.


Also Read: What Is Strabismus In Babies?

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