A child starts developing the sense organs in various stages as a part of the growth process. As muscles develop with movements, the visual system develops through use of the eyes from an early age. Normally both eyes will develop at the same rate and learns to work together, and thus the child develops normal visual acuity and depth perception. But sometimes one eye may start developing faster or one eye may have a structural problem. Now, the child starts to depend more on the stronger or better eye as the other eye becomes weaker. Therefore, the brain starts to ignore the vision from the weaker eye, which is now the lazy eye. So, the child's overall vision does not develop properly. This situation is referred to as Amblyopia, which affects about 2% of children.
Amblyopia may sometimes be genetic.
However, there are three main causes of Amblyopia :
Misaligned or cross eyed : where double image is seen by the brain seeing two different images.
Refractive error : where one eye is far sighted, near sighted or astigmatic.
Cloudiness in one eye : where a condition such as cataract is present and obstructs vision.
With such a condition affecting one eye, the brain ignores vision from that eye and relies on the better eye, and therefore the child's overall vision is compromised. From 6 years to 9years of age, a child's visual development is complete. If amblyopia is not treated at an early age, it may not be correctable for the rest of the child's life.
It may sometimes be difficult to detect Amblyopia early in life, so, it is recomended that a child undergoes a routine examination as per the following schedule:
1. First between birth to 3 months of age
2. Second between 6 months to 1 year of age
3. Third between 3years to 3years and 6months of age.
If diagnosed with Amblyopia, there are treatment options available. In many cases patching is done to the better eye, to forcibly use the weaker eye. When there are structural abnormalities are present, like cataract,surgical correction will be required. After removal of the cataract, the better eye is patched to stimulate the brain to use the vision from the weaker eye.
So, detection of Amblyopia at an early age can make a child see this world in a much better way.