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Eye diseases

Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye”

Ambliopía ojo vago
It usually does not cause any symptoms and generally goes unnoticed.
It can lead to permanent vision loss, if left untreated.
It is essential to diagnose and treat it before the age of 7.

What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia, known as lazy eye”,is a decrease in visual acuity caused by an abnormal development of vision, due to a visual stimulation disorder in the brain. In other words, it is an eye that has the ability to see correctly (it is well formed and the eye structures are intact), but has not learned to see, because it has not been properly stimulated.

Amblyopia is the most common cause of vision loss in children and affects about 4% of children, although the vision loss it causes can persist into adulthood, if not addressed in time during childhood.

Most commonly, amblyopia is not noticed, because the child sees well with one eye, while simply not using the “lazy” one. Thus, we can say that it is an asymptomatic pathology, which is usually not diagnosed, except with an eye examination. Hence the need for children to see an ophthalmologist every year from the age of 3-4.

The origin of amblyopia is a degradation of the visual information that reaches the retina during vision development. This can be caused by:

  • Refractive errors, such as astigmatism, hyperopia or myopia with high prescription or a dioptre difference between both eyes.
  • Strabismus, the “lazy eye” being a compensation mechanism for not seeing double due to eye deviation.
  • Diseases such as congenital cataracts or ptosis, which prevent visual stimuli from entering the affected eye.

Likewise, some risk factors that can increase the chances of the child developing amblyopia are having a family history, being premature or having been born with low weight, suffering from some psychomotor delay or malformation syndromes, etc.

The earlier we detect amblyopia, the simpler and more effective its treatment is in achieving the child’s optimal visual development. From the age of 7, the results are worse, and in many cases we cannot achieve good visual development despite the treatment. Bearing this in mind, we apply a double strategy:

  • Treatment of the cause of “lazy eye”: either by prescribing optical correction in the case of a refractive error or certain types of eye deviation or by means of specific surgeries (such as strabismus surgery, cataract surgery or ptosis surgery, which we perform at the Miranza clinics with ophthalmologists who are experts in each pathology.
  • Stimulating the use of the “lazy eye”: We can use occlusion patches (which the child must wear for the hours indicated by the ophthalmologist) or dilating drops to penalise the use of the healthy eye. Another alternative indicated in some cases is visual therapy exercises, a specialised service we also offer at our centres.