One of the most important processes the infant undergoes during its first months of life is the development of the vision system.
Upon the infant's coming into the world, the eyes begin transferring visual information to the brain. The brain cells develop using this visual information and take on the function of deciphering the information to achieve good visual acuity. If the information reaching the brain is not high-quality, the cells will not develop properly. Therefore, if the eyes do not transmit a clear, sharp image, vision may be compromised, and if this is not diagnosed in time, irreversible damage can be caused. This damage is termed amblyopia ("Lazy Eye").
What are the causes of amblyopia?
Any cause that does not enable a clear image to be seen will produce amblyopia.
These causes can be divided into:
Refractive causes - nearsightedness, farsightedness and anisometropia.
Strabismus (ocular misalignment- "crossed eyes")
Sensory causes- for instance, a cataract, a scar on the cornea, a scar on the macula.
How do we treat amblyopia?
Treatment of amblyopia begins by us correcting what has caused the lack of development of vision in the eye, by fitting glasses for solving the refractive causes, correcting the strabismus by fitting glasses or by surgery, or by a cataract surgery. However, sometimes this will not suffice. The brain has "gotten used" to not using the amblyopic ("lazy") eye, and even when this eye provides it with a clear image, it not always begins to use this information. In order to "force" the brain to make use of the eye, using a patch for different periods of time will be necessary, in order to close the good eye.
The patch is attached over the good eye so the child will use the amblyopic eye and strengthen it.
If there is no response to the patch, or for other reasons, the vision in the good eye can be blurred by administering pupil dilation drops.
Important advice: amblyopia should be corrected as early as possible. At a young age, the correction is relatively easier. The older the patient's age - the more the phenomenon is difficult to correct.