What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia or Lazy eye – is a common eye condition amongst younger children. In amblyopia, the brain favors one eye over the other. The other eye is ignored. It is not adequately stimulated and the visual brain cells do not mature normally. Generally, Amblyopia affects just one eye but sometimes both eyes can have a problem.
What causes a ‘lazy eye’?
Anything that obstructs vision in either eye during a child’s development has the potential to cause lazy eye.
For children, the most important period for the development of vision is from birth to the age of 6 and if there is any interference with development during this period, then this can lead to amblyopia which is commonly caused by a squint (strabismus) in one eye, anisometropia (different vision/prescriptions in each eye), and/or obstruction of an eye due to cataract, trauma, lid droop, etc.
There are two approaches to lazy eye treatment:
1) treating an underlying eye problem
2) getting the affected eye to work so that vision can develop
Why does my child need to wear a patch?
The best and simplest way to treat lazy eye is to cover or patch (known as occluding) the other eye so the vision in the lazy eye can improve and develop the pathways to the brain. A patch won’t get rid of an eye turn, but it will improve vision in the lazy eye.
The patch is worn over the good eye and the amount of time the patch must be worn is decided by the Orthoptist/Ophthalmologist and relates to the extent of the visual problem.
With early treatment by patching, vision can develop successfully but this becomes more difficult with older children and the level of vision achieved may not be as good.