Amblyopia is a vision disorder that occurs when an eye has reduced vision due to abnormal visual development during childhood. This condition typically starts in infancy or early childhood and can lead to reduced vision in one eye or both eyes if left untreated.
Amblyopia can be caused by several factors, with the most common being:
- Strabismus: Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned and do not point in the same direction. This misalignment can cause the brain to receive conflicting visual signals from each eye, leading to amblyopia in the weaker eye.
- Refractive errors: When one eye has a significantly different prescription (e.g., nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism) than the other, the brain may favor the eye with the clearer vision, leading to amblyopia in the less clear eye.
- Deprivation: Deprivation amblyopia occurs when something physically obstructs or blurs the vision in one eye during the critical period of visual development in childhood. This can be due to congenital cataracts, a droopy eyelid, or other eye conditions that prevent normal visual input.
The brain, in response to the visual differences between the two eyes, suppresses or ignores the input from the amblyopic eye. Over time, if left untreated, the amblyopic eye may experience irreversible vision loss.
Treatment for amblyopia typically involves the use of corrective lenses or eye patches to encourage the weaker eye to become more active and develop stronger vision. Vision therapy and exercises may also be recommended. It is crucial to detect and treat amblyopia in childhood, as the younger the individual, the more effective treatment is likely to be. If left untreated, amblyopia can lead to permanent vision impairment in the affected eye. Regular eye examinations for children are essential to identify and address amblyopia and other vision problems early.