Amblyopia is an eye disorder that occurs when the brain and the eyes do not work together properly, and the brain favors one eye over the other. It can result from any condition that prevents one eye from focusing less than the other or when there is vision loss in one eye, even with the best correction. When one eye fails to achieve normal vision, the brain begins to ignore the input from that eye and the result can be amblyopia or “lazy eye”.
Problems often begin in infancy and early childhood. If it is diagnosed early enough, treatment can begin, and reduced vision can be avoided. If left untreated, amblyopia can cause severe visual disability and, in some cases, legal blindness.
There are three different kinds of amblyopia:
Strabismic Amblyopia is when one eye is misaligned, it doesn’t focus straight and looks either up, down or out. The brain then will ignore the input from this eye and vision will begin to deplete. Of course, with all eye disorders, an exam is needed for accurate diagnosis, however there is a simple test you might try at home. A sign that strabismic amblyopia may be present is that your child cries or whines when one or the other eye is covered during visual activities. This can be a sign of discomfort and confusion that is caused by the brain favoring one eye and ignoring the other.
Refractive Amblyopia is when there are unequal refractive errors in the eyes. This is when there is a significant difference in unmatched near or farsightedness. Again, the brain will rely more heavily on the eye that is less uncorrected and ignore the input from the worse eye.
Deprivation Amblyopia is when there is something blocking the light from entering the eye, most likely a cataract. The brain gets almost no input or very blurry input from the cataract eye and, once again, will begin to ignore the information supplied.