What is amblyopia and what are the signs?

Amblyopia is a function eye defect which occurs in approximately 3 – 4 % of children and it mostly affects just one eye. The affected eye has strongly reduced vision ability in comparison to the second eye with better vision.  The difference in the vision of amblyopia affected eye and the second eye causes two different images reaching the brain.  Therefore the brain can ignore the image from the affected, worse eye in order to prevent general deterioration of vision or double vision. However, it causes that the child affected by amblyopia see with just one eye.  The child’s brain does not process the image from the affected eye and it is gradually concealed. 

What are the causes of amblyopia?

The main cause of amblyopia is the difference in dioptres between both eyes.  Another cause of amblyopia is squinting of children, when mutual cooperation of both eyes does not work correctly, every eye looks in a different direction.  Eye turning to the nose or the temple is excluded from vision and the eye is mostly affected by amblyopia.  Further causes of amblyopia are for example cataract, eye injury or other eye defects.

How do we recognise amblyopia in children?

The amblyopia can be accurately diagnosed solely by ophthalmologist.  The parents can be alerted of possible occurrence of serious eye defect e.g. by frequent bumping into furniture and things, tripping, burning and red eyes of the child, frequent rubbing of eyes and blinking, permanent eye inflammations, closing and squinting of eyes or head tilting in one side. If the child is tired the signs more visible.  Squinting is one of the causes of amblyopia. If you feel that your child suffers from any of the causes, do not hesitate and visit some of OFTEX centres.  Timely treatment commencement is very important. 

What is the treatment of amblyopia?

The treatment of the defect is solely standard, i.e. surgery is impossible. The treatment base is timely discovery and treatment of the defect.  The greatest results of the treatment in children are achieved between the 2nd and 3rd year of age.  Amblyopia can be treated solely before the child’s vision development is completed, which is approximately around the 8th year of age.  The later the amblyopia is diagnosed and the treatment commences, the chance for complete recovery is smaller and the abilities of the eye affected by amblyopia to see are slower. Untreated amblyopia causes permanent eyesight damage. The defect cannot be removed at adult age.  The treatment is based on repeated involvement of the affected eye in the process of vision. The ophthalmologist at first diagnoses and prescribes required glasses correction according to the possible dioptre defect.  After fitting the glasses, the eye with better vision is covered with occlusion device, and the brain starts processing the image from the affected eye.  The ophthalmologist can also prescribe orthoptic exercise. 

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