Understanding Amblyopia or Lazy Eye in Kids

Source: ©iStock.com/zilli

Source: ©iStock.com/zilli

You have probably heard of amblyopia by the name of lazy eye. This condition begins in infancy or early childhood and affects around 2 to 3 percent of the population, according to All About Vision. Usually present in just one eye but sometimes affecting both, amblyopia means that your child is unable to achieve normal visual acuity, even with glasses or contact lenses. It is important to detect and treat the condition early to avoid permanent vision loss, including legal blindness.

How to Detect Lazy Eye in Kids

There are three different types of lazy eye, as the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus explains:

  • Strabismic amblyopia, the most common, where the eyes are misaligned.
  • Deprivation amblyopia, which is due to congenital cataracts or another condition that prevents light from entering the eye.
  • Refractive amblyopia, where there is a large difference in the refractive error between the two eyes.

Only the first of these is obvious when looking at the eyes; to detect the others requires a comprehensive eye exam — just one reason why all kids should receive regular eye tests.

Lazy Eye Treatment

Your optometrist will treat the condition with a patch over the unaffected eye to encourage the brain to use the visual information of the other eye. For strabismus amblyopia, your child may require surgery to straighten the eyes followed by vision therapy in addition to the patch. For refractive amblyopia, your child will also need to wear glasses or contact lenses after treatment to achieve normal vision.

Children who refuse to keep a patch on may be able to use a prosthetic contact lens (although this is more expensive) or even atropine eyedrops; however, some eye doctors are skeptical about the effectiveness of atropine and prefer patients to opt for the patch.

No matter how good your child’s eyesight is today, you must protect eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays, which can lead to conditions just as serious as lazy eye in adulthood. Make sure your child always wears protective sunglasses by finding a pair in the Real Kids collection.