In the United States, amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, affects 2% of all children. It is a condition whereby a child’s eyesight does not develop as it should in one eye. There are no relations between this disease and hyperglycemia. Therefore, there is no need for a diabetes test.
What are lazy eyes?
When a child has amblyopia, the brain performs better in one eye thereby ignoring the other ( lazy eye). The nerve cells that are responsible for vision do not function properly. The child might lose vision in both eyes. The child can face other social and mental issues due to impaired vision.
Lazy eye is known to be the most common cause of partial or total blindness in the United States. This is far more than diabetes retinopathy. A diabetes test is always recommended if there is a vision loss. This helps the doctor to diagnose the causing disease.
Note that the term “lazy eye” is confusing; the eye is not lazy per sé. There is a problem in the nerve connecting the eye to the brain, not an eye problem in itself.
What are the causes of Lazy eyes in Children?
When the vision in one eye is obstructed amblyopia can occur. This can happen due to any reason in a developing child. Although the reasons are still hazy, the brain suppresses the images coming from the most affected eye. This can happen because of trauma or infection. In such a condition, doctors recommend not to travel long distances. This can aggravate the situation.
Here are the possible causes of Lazy eye in children:
This is a common cause of Lazy eyes in children. There is a refractive error that causes the problem. This happens when the light gets refracted and do not focus properly. The problem can be with the lenses or some other part of the eye. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, can result in refractive error. Sometimes, the surface of the cornea or lens is not even, leading to blurred vision.
Children with anisometropic amblyopia will have extreme near-sightedness or far-sightedness in one eye.
Strabismus is the condition when there is an imbalance in the eye muscles. The eyes may cross or turn out. Thus, it becomes difficult for both eyes to focus together.
Strabismus may be transferred through genes or be the result of an injury. It can also happen due to far- or near-sightedness. A virus is another cause of strabismus. A PCR test can detect the virus.
Stimulus Deprivation Amblyopia
This is very uncommon. But, you cannot rule out its effects. In stimulus deprivation amblyopia one eye cannot see. It gradually weakens. Both eyes might lose vision.
Here are the possible reasons for this:
- Ptosis, or a droopy eyelid
- Eye injury
- Corneal ulcer, or a scar
- Eye surgery
- Congenital cataract
- Virus infection
Diabetic retinopathy can’t be ruled out too. A good quality diabetes test can help you detect the severity of diabetes. Your doctor can prescribe you medicines to stop the progress of diabetic retinopathy.
A viral infection can also lead to vision loss. A PCR test can determine the type of virus and the gravity of the infection.
How are Lazy Eyes Diagnosed in Children?
Diagnosing lazy eyes as early as possible is essential, preferably before the age of 6. Usually, the child does not realize something is not right with his or her sight. That’s your duty as a parent or guardian.
In most developed nations, children have their first eye examination between the ages of 3 and 5 years, or before they start school. But, sometimes trauma during travel might go undetected. This can lead to loss of vision in one or both eyes without any pre-warning. The child may or may not complain about pain in the eyes. Parents in the entire journey might not know that their child is not fit to fly. But, as there is no direct symptom, it becomes hard to detect.
Therefore, you need to ensure that your child’s eyes are properly protected during travel.
What after the diagnosis?
If signs of lazy eye are detected in a child, the ophthalmologist or optometrist conducts further tests before a diagnosis is reached.
The two eyes are tested separately to determine whether there is any short or long-sightedness, and how severe it is. A further test is also carried out to determine if there are other eye problems.
Treatment Options for Lazy Eyes
The Use of Eye Drops
With the use of eye drops, it will be harder for the unaffected eye to see properly for a short time. This enables the weaker eye to take over and work harder. The eye drops contain medication such as atropine, which weakens the muscles in the stronger eye, making the lens of the eye unable to focus for a while.
Here the healthy eye is covered up with a special patch for several hours a day. In the case of children who often wear glasses, the lens on that side can be covered. This treatment aims to encourage the lazy eye to work harder.
Correcting any underlying vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism with the use of a concave or convex lens in kids with amblyopia can help their eyes focus.
These include moving a pencil gradually towards the tip of the nose and concentrating on the end of the pen during this movement until it looks blurred.
What are the Risk Factors of Lazy Eye?
There’s a chance that a child will a lazy eye if they:
- Were born prematurely
- Were smaller than average at birth
- Have a family or relative who has amblyopia or other eye conditions
- Have other developmental disabilities
What are the common symptoms of Lazy Eye in a Child?
Here are the common symptoms you’ll notice In a child with a lazy eye:
- Double Vision
- Poor depth perception
- An eye turn
- Blurred vision
- The two eyes don’t focus together
What are the complications of Lazy eye in children?
Another common problem is the eye turn. You can also call it strabismus. Proper alignment of the eyes is not there. This problem can become permanent.
Unlike our ears, eyes are totally dependent on one another. Therefore, a problem with one eye can put a lot of strain on the other.
The lazy eye can be dangerous. Therefore, you should treat it quickly. The patient may ultimately lose vision in the afflicted eye. Sadly, vision loss is usually irreversible. Lazy eye is the most common condition of single-eye vision impairment in young and middle-aged people in the United States. This is more than vision loss due to diabetes.
It is important to treat amblyopia. If untreated, the patient’s central vision may not develop well. This problem may affect their ability to do certain tasks.
Monitor your child’s eyes and ears regularly. Consult with your doctor especially if you notice something is not right. Take the necessary action as quickly as possible.