Amblyopia is commonly known as lazy eye. This should not be confused with squints. Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood.
After the age of eight years, the development of the part of the brain that processes vision is almost complete. If the brain has not received clear images from the weak eye, it would be difficult to improve the vision in this eye after the brain is completely developed. The eye is then said to be amblyopic or lazy.
Successful treatment depends on how severe the amblyopia is and the age of the child when treatment begins. If the problem is detected early, successful treatment is possible and treatment time is shorter. If it is detected after the age of eight, the success rate would be very low.
Since the child is usually too young to complain of poor vision, this detection requires early checking of the vision by the family doctor, paediatrician or ophthalmologist before the age of four to five years.
To correct amblyopia, the child must be forced to use the lazy eye. This is usually done by patching, or covering the good eye often for a duration of up to weeks or months. If the child also requires spectacles, he must wear it all the time.
The basis of patching is to allow the amblyopic eye to be used more often than the other eye so that it gets a chance to develop normal vision. The recovery of vision is better if patching is done at an early age.
When first applying the child's patch, you may like to explain the reason to the child, or demonstrate on a doll. If the child is schooling, explain the treatment to the teacher so that she can encourage the child to perform his/her usual tasks with the patch on. She can also discourage classmates from teasing.
Treatment may take months to years. The younger the child starts treatment, the faster the recovery. The vision sometimes worsens after recovery so the child must be reviewed regularly.
Spectacles should fit comfortably on the face and ears. Different sized spectacles are available, even for babies.
A good frame should have a comfortable support at the nose and behind the ears. Sometimes a back strap may be required to prevent the child from pulling the spectacles off.
The child should be encouraged to put on his/her spectacles as much as possible throughout his/her waking hours if he/she is being treated for amblyopia. If the child is old enough, he/she can help to pick the colour of the frames. The child should never be made to feel ugly with his/her spectacles on.
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