Amblyopia is a lazy eye. That is an eye that has poor vision regardless of any spectacle therapy. It is a problem with the development of the vision. The eye’s job is to focus light on the retina, the optic nerve then transmits that information from the eye to the occipital lobe in the back of the brain. If the eye is out of focus the pathway to the brain does not develop properly and the child is unable to process to the level of 20/20 vision.
There is a critical period that this can be corrected, after the age of 8 it becomes very difficult to prevent a lazy eye because the brain is hard wired at that point. Amblyopia can be caused by any condition that causes one eye to be out of focus, that includes high refractive error, congenital cataract, ptosis (lid droop) and strabismus. Treatment involves removing the source of blur such as prescribing spectacles, cataract surgery or lid surgery.
Often the strong eye will be patched to help development of the weaker eye. Due to the limited time we have to correct a lazy eye it is important to diagnose and treat early. If the amblyopia is not corrected early or watched closely depth perception can be reduced and certain careers may be limited. Annual eye exams will monitor for strabismus and amblyopia and prevent any reduced vision.