PEDIATRIC EYE CONDITIONS > Amblyopia
Amblyopia, or decreased vision, is a problem that is ideally corrected while children are young. It is sometimes called “lazy eye.” When one eye develops good vision while the other does not, the eye with poorer vision is called amblyopic. Usually only one eye is affected, but it is possible for both eyes to be “lazy eyes.” Recently, many reports in the medical literature have increased our understanding of how best to successfully treat these children.
The development of equal vision in both eyes is necessary for normal vision. Newborns have some vision, and during the early months vision continues to improve. If a child cannot use his or her eyes in a normal fashion, vision does not develop properly and might even decrease.
Amblyopia is caused by any condition that affects normal vision development. In some cases those conditions are inherited. Amblyopia occurs commonly with misaligned or crossed eyes. (Strabismus) If a child has a significant difference in nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism between the eyes, the blurrier eye can become amblyopic. It can occur in both eyes if both are blurry. A severe form of amblyopia can be caused by a childhood cataract, or cloudiness in the eye lens. It is not always easy to recognize amblyopia. Unless the child has a misaligned eye or other obvious abnormality, there is often no way for a parent to tell if something is wrong. If you or your pediatrician suspects that your child has amblyopia, or if there is a family history of misaligned eyes, childhood cataracts, or serious eye diseases, Dr. Wasserman will conduct a thorough eye examination.Using a variety of tests, Dr. Wasserman determines whether one or both eyes are amblyopic. Dr. Wasserman will also carefully examine the interior of the eye for decreased vision, such as cataracts, or retinal or optic nerve disorders. Once a child is diagnosed with amblyopia, Dr. Wasserman will prescribe a plan that is specific to his or her individual needs. Dr. Wasserman carefully follows the patient over time to be sure there is improvement. Successful treatment of amblyopia depends upon the severity of the problem, and how old the child is when treatment is begun. Glasses, patching, and eyedrops maybe employed as needed to improve vision for the rest of the child’s life. The involvement and encouragement of the parents is another critical factor.