What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia, commonly referred to as lazy eye, is the eye condition noted by reduced vision not correctable by wearing glasses or contact lenses and is not due to any eye disease. Amblyopia is often the result of long-term suppression of the eye’s signal from the brain. Anything that interferes with clear vision in either eye during the critical period (birth to 6 years of age) can cause amblyopia. The most common causes are constant strabismus (constant turn of one eye), anisometropia (different vision/prescriptions in each eye), and/or blockage of an eye due to cataract, trauma, lid droop, etc.
Amblyopia is a neurologically active process. In other words, the loss of vision takes place in the brain. If one eye sees clearly and the other sees a blur, the brain can inhibit (block, ignore, suppress) the eye with the blur. The brain can also suppress one eye to avoid double vision. The inhibition process (suppression) can result in a permanent decrease in the vision in the blurry eye that cannot be corrected with glasses, lenses, or laser eye surgery.
Recent scientific research has disproven the long held belief that children with lazy eye, or amblyopia, can’t be helped after age 7. The tradition of patching the good eye is not as effective as vision therapy and constant patching can damage the binocular cells of the eye. Newer treatment methods utilize minimal patching combined with appropriate activities that stimulate both the monocular and binocular cells of the eye.