Amblyopia, commonly known as “Lazy Eye” causes more visual loss in the under 40 age-group then any other injuries or diseases in this age group.
Amblyopia is an eye condition in which the visual acuity (eye sight) is reduced. This is not correctable by glasses or contact lenses or surgery and in most cases it is not due to any eye disease: The brain - for some reason - simply does not acknowledge the images perceived by the amblyopic eye. In most of the cases it affects only one eye but it may manifest with reduction of the visual acuity in both eyes.
If left untreated, the vision in the amblyopic eye will never develop correctly. The impairment will become permanent as the child’s brain matures with the habit to ignore the image of a lower quality coming from the amblyopic eye.
Amblyopia usually starts when images perceived by one eye are of much better quality then the other. One eye could be farsighted or have an astigmatism, or simply a focusing issue, while the other does not have it. Recent studies are discovering that the eye-teaming is the main problem: if one eye keeps sending blurred or smudged images to the brain, the brain has problems fusing the two images from the two eyes (i.e. one perfect and one blurred) into one single image. With some children that could go on for a while.
How to spot
a Lazy Eye
Bad eye-hand coordination (catching a ball, playing badminton)
Trouble with depth perception and 3D-vision
The cause of the amblyopia could be strabismus, an ocular misalignment of one eye; one eye might be drifting in or out. This again affects the eye-teaming and in order to prevent double vision, the brain surpasses the image of lower quality, causing the vision of the eye to deteriorate. In some cases a childhood cataract or other ocular pathology might be obstructing the way of the sight coming into the eye. However, the ocular, organic issues are not very common.
Lazy Eye often gets undetected as the child functions very well visually with reasonable level of cognitive abilities. Those children learn at early age how to use monocular clues - to gauge the distance, shape and moment of objects by one eye, quite often with specific head position or head movements. However, those children will usually have compromised depth perception and three dimensional vision.
Treatment of Lazy Eye is very successful if the child starts with the therapy before 7-8 years of age. Lots of studies from the neuroscience confirm the high level of neuro-plasticity and therefore high ability of the child to adjust the way of using the eyes. Treatment is possible even after this age but it is much more difficult to work on.
The treatment consists of the full correction of the eye-sight with glasses, if necessary, regular patching and vision therapy. Recent studies and development of certain gadgets treatment of Lazy Eye suggest that the eye-teaming, teaching the brain to use both eyes, is of great importance. Therefore Visual Motor Processing Activities are crucial in the remediation of the Lazy Eye.