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What is Amblyopia? | Kids Eye Gear

Amblyopia is one of the main vision disorders that patching is used to treat. But what exactly is amblyopia, what causes it and how is it treated?

According to RANZCO, amblyopia occurs when an eye is turned or when one eye has a much different prescription than the other. The brain essentially ‘shuts off’ the images from the blurry eye, which can lead to permanent vision impairment. Amblyopia must be treated, which is usually through patching or other occlusion therapy, or glasses. This is typically prescribed by an ophthalmologist, orthoptist or optometrist.   

What causes Amblyopia?

There are three ’causes’ of amblyopia.

Strabismus

One of the main causes of amblyopia can be strabismus, which can be seen through misalignment of the eyes or crossed eyes. 

 

Refractive

Another cause of amblyopia is refractive error, which is not as noticeable as strabismic amblyopia.  This means that one eye is weaker than the other. 

 

Deprivation

The other cause of amblyopia is deprivation – so in the case of congenital cataracts, where light is not entering the eye and therefore vision not being developed. 

How common is Amblyopia?

Research suggests that the worldwide prevalence of amblyopia is approximately 1.75% of the total population. Cases do vary in different parts of the world, with the highest prevalence in European countries at approximately 3.67%. 

Signs and Symptoms of Amblyopia

Amblyopia isn’t always easily recognised. Certainly if a child has strabismic amblyopia there will be a misalignment of the eyes. But refractive and deprivation amblyopia may have no noticeable signs. We had many parents express their shock in our Little Aussie Eyes Report that their child was diagnosed with amblyopia because there had been no obvious signs. 

How is Amblyopia treated?

Patching plays a big role in treating amblyopia. Essentially, patching the ‘good’ eye will make the ‘weak’ eye work harder, therefore encouraging better vision. 

Glasses can quite often help children with Refractive amblyopia achieve ‘normal’ vision but quite often patching is also undertaken to force the brain to use the weaker eye. 

When it comes to strabismic amblyopia, surgery to straighten the eyes may take place first, followed by patching.

Deprivation amblyopia may also require surgery to remove cataract affected lenses, followed by patching. 

Early detection and treatment is vital

It’s important to discover and diagnose amblyopia early. If it’s left untreated, amblyopia is highly likely to lead to permanent vision problems.  

The best way to check for amblyopia is to have an eye exam with an optometrist as early as possible. 

 

 

Sources : 

RANZCO

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