Amblyopia: ‘Lazy eye’ condition to watch out for

Amblyopia, commonly known as the ‘lazy eye’, is a condition affecting the eyesight that arises when the brain and eyes do not work well coherently.

Published: 06th June 2019 02:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th June 2019 02:34 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Amblyopia, commonly known as the ‘lazy eye’, is a condition affecting the eyesight that arises when the brain and eyes do not work well coherently. On the outset, the eye appears to be normal but the vision is impaired. In most cases, decreased vision is noticed among children and young adults. One of the most common causes of visual impairment in children, the lazy eye condition affects two to three out of every 100 cases. This condition mostly develops from early childhood when the vision in one eye does not develop. If this occurrence is ignored and not treated, it will lead to the brain, ignoring the image that is seen through the affected eye.

In some cases, the patient’s eyes turn in or out and doesn’t line up as they should. This leads to an inability to focus on an object and they often see things doubled. This non-alignment leads to the development of the term ‘lazy eye’. In some other cases, the patient is unable to see well due to something blocking the light from getting through. This could be a clot of blood or a cataract. Any of the above reasons could lead to amblyopia. 

Three types of amblyopia
1. Strabismic amblyopia – This is a condition in which the eyes are not straight. One eye may turn in or out, up or down. 
2. Deprivation amblyopia – In this condition, the child is deprived of the visual experience due to a blockage that prevents light from getting through. This blockage may be in the form of cataracts or similar blockage/s.
3. Refractive amblyopia – In this condition, one of the eyes is more in need of visual assistance like glasses as compared to the other eye. It results in blurry vision and can affect both the eyes in some cases.

Diagnosing amblyopia 
In order to rule out the lazy eye syndrome, it is critical to check for the following three conditions:
Vision in both the eyes should be equally well
There should not be any blockage for light getting through to the eyes
Both the eyes should move equally well
In case any discrepancy is seen, one should consult an eye specialist. For children, it is advisable to have a thorough eye check-up at least once a year. 

Treating amblyopia 
The condition develops when one of the two eyes does not function adequately as a result of which the brain stops accepting input from the affected eye. In order to treat the lazy eye, it is important to have the brain start using the affected eye more than usual. The ophthalmologist will first correct the underlying problems of sight. In order to improve focus, some kids need glasses.  
The doctor may advice covering the normal eye with a patch. At the outset, it will be difficult to properly see through the affected eye but eventually, it will help improve and restore vision.      
The author is consultant-oncology and Vitreo Retina, Sankara Eye Hospital

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