WHAT IS AMBLYOPIA?Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is an eye error or functional defect of vision, which is manifested by reduced visual acuity of one or both eyes. The images from both eyes combine in the brain, however, if the image from one eye is poorer, it is evaluated as incorrect and the brain discards it to avoid the disturbing double vision. The brain gradually ignores the impulses from the weaker eye until it completely stops using the eye. The result is a significant reduction in vision in the weaker eye and spatial vision loss when looking with both eyes.
The cause of amblyopia may be strabismus or an uncorrected refractive defect from childhood, congenital and some other eye disorders.
Signs of amblyopia may be the loss of spatial orientation, perceived clumsiness of the child closing of one or both eyes, squinting, or tilting of the head. It may not be outwardly manifested at all, and therefore prevention is important.
If a high degree refractive error, amblyopia, or strabismus have been present in the family, visit an expert at around the 2nd year of the child’s life. Otherwise, children should undergo preventive examinations in the 3rd, 6th, and 9th year of life.
If the disease is discovered in time and treatment initiated, it can be partially or completely removed. However, it can no longer be influenced after the 9th year of life, because the development of the visual system and its cerebral center is completed and cannot be affected anymore. Therefore, preventive examinations are very important because amblyopia is practically irrecoverable in adulthood.
HOW TO GET RID OF AMBLYOPIATreatment of amblyopia is in the hands of a pediatric ophthalmologist, and the most important period is up to the 6th year of the child's life. Treatment depends on the underlying cause:
- If this is a refractive defect, glasses or contact lenses with the respective diopters will help; if the cause is the cataract, strabismus or other eye disorder, its removal is often done through surgery
- The affected eye needs to be forced to work and teach the brain to register the impulses from the eye again. Because of this, an occluder (eg. a patch) is temporarily applied to the healthy eye, covering it and thus forcing the brain to accept the image from the weaker eye - plenoptic treatment
- The treatment may even include orthoptic exercises, which teach and keep the extraocular muscles working in mutual coordination. They may be carried out with a medical practitioner (orthoptic nurse), but also at home in the form of different games.
- Treatment of amblyopia is a long-term process and requires close cooperation between the parents and the doctor.
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