The most common vision problem in children is amblyopia, or lazy eye. Amblyopia is a decrease in the child’s vision that can happen even when there is no problem with the structure of the eye. The decrease in vision results when one or both eyes send a blurry image to the brain. The brain then learns to only see blurry with that eye, even when glasses are used. Only children can get amblyopia. If it is not treated, it can cause permanent loss of vision.
There are several different types and causes of amblyopia: Strabismic amblyopia, deprivation amblyopia, and refractive amblyopia. The end result of all forms of amblyopia is reduced vision in the affected eye(s).
One of the most important treatments of amblyopia is correcting the refractive error with consistent use of glasses and/or contact lenses. Other mainstays of amblyopia treatment are to enable as clear an image as possible by forcing the child to use the nondominant eye. This is most commonly done with patching the dominant eye to force the weak eye to get stronger. Patching should only be done if an ophthalmologist recommends it. An ophthalmologist should regularly check how the patch is affecting the child’s vision. Although it can be hard to do, patching usually works very well if started early enough and if the parents and child follow the patching instructions carefully.
If your child is being treated for amblyopia by patching, see our FAQ about Patching for more information.
Blurring the vision in the good eye with drops or with extra power in the glasses is another technique used to force the eye with amblyopia to get stronger. Ophthalmologists use this treatment instead of patching when the amblyopia is not very bad or when a child is unable to wear the patch as recommended.
Source: American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
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