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Amblyopia / Lazy Eye

Amblyopia / Lazy Eye

Lazy eye — does not mean that the eyes looks lazy or sleepy !!

There is the difference between the child below 7 years wearing glasses and someone older. Rather, the difference is what we call as a Lazy Eye.

Let me start with a story. Lets say that cute twins arrive in this world today. Lets assume they are totally normal in all aspects. I decide to patch one eye of one twin and not remove it till the children are 8 years old. What do you think will happen ??

The eye that was patched would have very very poor vision if at all. The sad part is that there is no treatment in the world that will bring the vision back in the eye that was patched.

This eye which now has no vision is called a LAZY EYE. It basically means that the eye structure is totally normal but the there is no vision in the eye.

Normally, in us humans the vision develops after birth till upto 7-8 years of age. If during these 7 years there is a obstruction to that development then vision will not develop in the eye. After 7, its too late, and no mater what we do vision cannot be bought back.

So the next question is what could these obstructions to development be. Well….lets say a child has a high glass power and does not wear his glasses. In that case the eye is not seeing clearly…..the eye not seeing clearly is not as bad as patching an eye but bad enough. The other obstructions could be a child born with a cataract in one eye and parents deciding not to get it operated upon…..or a child with a squint in one eye and again parents deciding not to get it operated. In both these situations the child is not using the eye that has a cataract or squint….thus the development of vision in that eye is not happening.

If a child less than 7 years needs to wear glasses ( specially higher power or say more than + or – 2.0) then the child should wear them so that vision develops normally. Once the vision develops normally and the child is older than 8 years the development of vision is set and will not change. If after that age the child does not wear glasses the potential for good vision will not decrease….all that will happen is that whenever the child does not wear glasses he will not see clearly and when he does he will….

Sometimes we see children coming in at the age of around 5 years complaining of decrease in vision in one eye. On examination they have a lazy eye. To improve the vision in that eye we have to start patching the better eye so that the child is forced to use the weaker eye and vision development starts. Some of you as parents may have seen children in schools with patches on their eyes.

So Lazy eye or technically known as amblyopia is a very important problem. It should be diagnosed early and treated early. Routine school examination is a must. Children as young as 3 years should get their eyes examined by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

If every child were to have a routine eye examination between the ages of 2 and 3 years and once a year after that then we would reduce the incidence of Lazy eye by more than 80 %.