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Amblyopia, or "lazy eye", is a reduction in eyesight due to the eye and brain team not developing properly even though the eye is physically healthy. Strabismus, high refractive error or cataracts at birth are common causes of amblyopia.
Amblyopia, if left untreated, becomes the leading cause of monocular visual impairment in adults. These patients are at a higher risk for blindness. Reduced eyesight affects life-skills. Some common eyesight demands include:
O Eighth grade reading materials require at minimum 20/20 eyesight at near
O Fourth grade books require a minimum of 20/25 eyesight at near
O Chalkboard print requires at minimum 20/60 eyesight at distance
O Every line worse than 20/20 reduces reaction speed when driving by 4x's
O Sports requires depth perception which requires relatively equal sight between the eyes
Amblyopia slows down reading speed, prevents enjoyment of 3-D movies, makes driving at nighttime more difficult, creates difficulties when navigating curbs and stairs, contributes to poor balance and coordination, reduces contrast sensitivity, causes focusing inaccuracy, adversely affects tracking ability and creates abnormal spatial distortions.
With vision therapy, this condition has been shown to be treatable through the age of 17 years old. The earlier that it is detected and treated, the more likely that it is to improve. Earlier treatment may improve the development of binocular, or "two-eyed", skills which helps to maintain improvements in eyesight in the amblyopic eye. Just patching an eye will not help a child develop the coordinated use of both eyes. A child will not outgrow amblyopia. The ultimate goal of therapy is for the child to develop comfortable, coordinated, accurate vision with both eyes at all distances at all times.
We specialize in vision development including cases of amblyopia. We have special techniques to test eyesight in children who are either too young to speak or who do not have adequate expressive language. If you suspect that your child has amblyopia (e.g. eyesight worse in one eye versus the other, poor depth perception, eyes that do not appear to work together, fusses when one eye is covered versus the other, a crossed eye), go to the the Appointments page and schedule an amblyopia exam. A routine eye exam is not the same as an amblyopia exam.
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