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Amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye," is a functional problem in which the brain favors one eye over the other, producing impaired vision. But don't fret, because this condition can be treated right here at Dr. Cooper Pediatric Ophthalmology & Family Eye Care in Burlingame CA.
The term "lazy eye" is somewhat misleading when discussing amblyopia, since it is the vision center of the brain, not the eye in question that is choosing not to pay attention to the pictures coming from that eye. It usually occurs when one image is stronger or clearer than the other, or when the images are not in proper sync with each other. Potential causes of childhood amblyopia include:
• Refractive errors - Refractive amblyopia is the result of a refractive error (such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) that is stronger in one eye than in the other. This not only causes a jarring difference between image quality from each eye, prompting the brain to ignore the less distinct image.
• Strabismus - Strabismus is an eye misalignment in which one or both eyes may be turned abnormally outward, inward, upward or downward. The misalignment makes it difficult or impossible to bring the two images into focus, forcing the brain to pick one or the other. This condition is referred to as strabismic amblyopia.
• Ptosis - Ptosis is the term for a drooping or otherwise enlarged eyelid that blocks some amount of incoming light from entering the eye. This results in less useful visual data being sent from the eye to the brain, causing the brain to give up on the affected eye in favor of the data from the other eye. This phenomenon is called deprivation amblyopia.
A child can have more than one of these contributing factors at the same time. For instance, one study found that 1 out of 5 children with ptosis also displayed some form of strabismus.
Early detection and treatment of childhood amblyopia are critical to prevent permanent loss of binocular vision, which can make proper depth perception impossible. Fortunately, our pediatric ophthalmologist can diagnose both eye function issues and visual processing problems during a comprehensive exam. Treatment depends on the underlying cause(s) of the amblyopia. Options may include:
The sooner your child's possible amblyopia is diagnosed; the sooner and more successfully we can treat it. Contact our eye care center at 650-259-0300 today for an appointment!