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Don’t delay treatment for “lazy eye”!

Good vision and healthy eyes play an important role in coping with our daily life. Most people have normal vision. However, some people have subnormal vision which is unrelated to any eye diseases. The vision cannot be improved through wearing spectacles, taking medications and even surgery. These may be the symptoms of “lazy eye” or “amblyopia”.

What is the cause of amblyopia? At birth, babies cannot see well because their eyes and visual system have not fully developed. Vision improves rapidly when the visual cortex continues to receive a clear and single image from two eye in the first few years of life. However, any disturbance that can affect the quality of the images sending to our brain may obstruct the vision development.

Common causes of amblyopia are: crossed eye, significant near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism in one eye or both eyes, congenital eye diseases such as cataract and abnormality of upper eye lids.

Currently, the treatment of amblyopia is a combination of wearing glasses, vision training and eye patching. When amblyopia occurs in people who has significant difference of refractive errors between eyes, wearing a fully corrected spectacles is the first step. Patch the good eye to allow the weak eye to practice more is required if the vision could not be improved effectively with wearing a pair of glasses solely. If amblyopia is caused by crossed eye or squint, patching and visual training should be timely assigned, in some severe cases, surgery is useful to align the eyes. If there are any congenital eye diseases, surgical treatment is indicated before any amblyopia therapy.

Many studies have proved that our visual system will become mature before 8 years old. Early diagnosis will increase the chance for a complete recovery from amblyopia. Besides, early intervention such as visual training could be beneficial for the ability of two eyes coordination and the development of stereopsis. If a child misses the chance treating amblyopia before 8 years old, the vision improvement will be more difficult in older age. Having said that the poor result in amblyopia treatment after age of eight, recent studies provided positive treatment outcome for adult amblyopia. The method includes ‘dichoptic training’, it makes use of alternating the contrast difference of the images in two eyes, results in preventing suppression of the image in the weak eye. After visual training, the child should continue to keep aware of his/her eye’s coordination and keep practicing the training exercise in regular basis as maintenance. In order to prevent all the negative effects of amblyopia, parents should bring their children to have first comprehensive eye examination at age of three, and even by 6 months if there are any family history of ocular pathology.


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