Dr. Jenelle Mallios, an assistant clinical professor at the University Eye Center, discusses amblyopia, or lazy eye, in children and why it is so important for amblyopia to be identified and treated early on in a child’s life.
What is amblyopia?
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a common visual disorder in which a person has poor vision in one or both of their eyes that often cannot be fully corrected with a glasses or contact prescription. It can be caused by a variety of different things. Most commonly, it is caused by strabismus (eyes that cross), a large or unequal difference in prescription between the two eyes or a congenital cataract.
How do you know if your child has amblyopia? What symptoms will he or she have?
The only way to know if your child has amblyopia is to have it diagnosed by an eye care provider. There are no symptoms. While your child will have worse or blurrier vision in one or both of their eyes, he or she will likely be using their “better” eye and not realize that one eye is worse. Often, when a child has amblyopia in both eyes, they become used to things appearing blurry and don’t realize that anything is wrong. The bottom line is that it is critical for all children to see an optometrist as early as possible, even if he or she has no symptoms. That way if amblyopia exists, it can be treated early as it becomes much more difficult to treat when a child gets older.
How is amblyopia treated in children?
The first step is for the child to get the appropriate glasses prescription. Wearing the proper glasses prescription will help to re-establish the appropriate connections between the child’s brain and their eyes. In some cases, this may be enough to treat amblyopia but sometimes more treatment is required, including patching therapy or Atropine drops. These treatments can help to strengthen the weaker eye.
It is important to recognize that amblyopia is much more difficult to treat after the age of 8 years old so it is vital that it gets detected early.
Dr. Jenelle Mallios
is an assistant clinical professor who focuses on pediatric patients. Dr. Mallios also works with the Clinical Vision Research Center conducting research on myopia control in children among other research.
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