Amblyopia | Lazy Eye

The term amblyopia means a decrease in visual acuity not due to alterations or structural anomalies of the eye.

That is, the eye is perfectly intact from the anatomical point of view but suffers from a reduced visual acuity such that the brain of the person suffering from amblyopia unconsciously deprives the vision from the “healthy” eye.

Also known as lazy eye syndrome, amblyopia is a rather frequent pathology: it affects 4% of the world population and, in children, develops from the earliest years of age.

Prevention is therefore the best weapon to fight it, and it is for this reason that, even in the absence of symptoms, it is recommended to make a first eye examination to children within 3-4 years of age.

What Causes Amblyopia

Amblyopia is determined by the fact that images from one eye are involuntarily suppressed in the cerebral cortex. This deficit, completely unaware, can be caused by a multiplicity of factors:

  • ocular pathologies such as cataracts or congenital eyelid ptosis which, during the development of the visual apparatus in childhood (i.e. between 0 and 6 years), prevent the light stimulus from reaching the retina;
  • astigmatism and farsightedness;
  • strabismus, whereby the brain cannot combine the images coming from the deviated eye with those provided by the healthy eye.

Amblyopia Treatments

Since amblyopia is the consequence of a visual defect, it is clear that the first action to be taken is to heal the primary pathology.

Subsequently, the lazy eye must be stimulated to resume its full functionality by covering the healthy eye (dominant eye). Generally, this happens with the method of direct occlusion with adhesive bandages applied on the eye or on the glasses and / or with semitransparent filters placed on the glasses.

The bandage must be maintained every day for a few hours for a variable time (from a few months to a few years) to allow the eye with amblyopia to “train” progressively. It is very important at this stage to follow the instructions of the ophthalmologist and never remove the bandage so as not to compromise the progress achieved.

An alternative to bandaging is the use of an atropine-based eye drops which, by dilating the pupil, temporarily obscures the sight in the stronger eye and indirectly stimulates the sight in the weaker eye thus helping the part of the brain that manages the vision to develop more completely.

However, this option can have side effects such as eye irritation and headache so it is always best to discuss it with your eye doctor.