What is amblyopia?
Amblyopia (lazy eye) is an eye disease characterized by a persistent decrease in visual acuity in one or both eyes that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
Usually, images hit the central areas of the retina of each eye. If you close each eye in turn and compare the images, you will notice that they are slightly different because the eyes see objects from different angles. The human brain knows how to merge these two images into one, which gives us a 3D image and helps us distinguish their depth. This is called binocular vision. If the image coming from one eye is unclear, blurry, or poorly discernible for some reason, the brain “shuts off” the worse seeing eye from the visual process to protect itself from double vision. As a result, its functions are suppressed up to complete vision loss.
Depending on the disease severity, there are four grades of amblyopia:
- Low grade with visual acuity of 0.8-0.4;
- Medium grade with visual acuity of 0.3-0.2;
- High grade with visual acuity of 0.1-0.05;
- Extremely high grade with visual acuity of 0.04 and below.
Who can get amblyopia?
As a rule, amblyopia arises from unresolved vision problems in preschool or junior high school age, when the visual system is actively developing. Most often amblyopia occurs:
- With strabismus when the visual acuity in the squinting eye decreases. As a rule, these two diseases not only “neighbor” each other, but also form a “vicious circle”: amblyopia is provoked by strabismus and aggravates its course, contributing to even greater strabismus;
- In the long-term absence of myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism correction;
- With a difference in eye refraction greater than 3 diopters;
- When wearing glasses that do not fit properly;
- With long-term light obstruction to the retina, such as corneal opacity, congenital lens opacity (cataracts), and drooping eyelids (ptosis).
Risks of amblyopia
If amblyopia is not treated in time, the lazy eye may cease seeing at all. In adulthood, amblyopic eye disorders are irreversible. People with amblyopia lack binocular vision. This is the brain’s ability to match two images from both eyes correctly into a single whole. This ability is essential for estimating the depth, the sequence of the objects in the visual field, the picture volume, and the integrity of perception. Binocular visual impairment imposes significant limitations. It can impede professional activity and movement coordination. Amblyopia in adults cannot be corrected by optical means, and it is impossible to restore vision in the amblyopic eye: the changes are irreversible.
Symptoms of amblyopia
It is worth visiting a clinic as soon as possible if you notice the following alarming symptoms:
- Poor movement coordination, impaired spatial orientation;
- Rapid eye fatigue;
- Blurred objects; a kind of “shroud” in front of the eyes;
- Double vision;
- Loss of visual acuity;
- Impairment of color perception;
- Strabismus onset.
Initial amblyopia may be asymptomatic. Only a specialist can detect this disorder.
There is a special term defining the time when the effectiveness of amblyopia treatment is the highest known as the “sensitive period”. Measures taken at a later time are less effective. This is why ophthalmologists strongly recommend taking systematic diagnostic examinations to detect pathological changes in the visual system in time.
Can amblyopia be self-diagnosed?
Decreased visual acuity in amblyopia can occur for no apparent reason. Sometimes you may not even be aware of the disease. Amblyopia may be discovered during an eye exam in adulthood. Sometimes it happens that a person accidentally closes one eye and realizes that the other eye is blind. Only an ophthalmologist can make an accurate diagnosis based on a thorough examination of the visual system.
Amblyopia in childhood should be diagnosed as early as possible since this condition may only get worse with time up to complete suppression of the visual functions of the amblyopic eye. The complex diagnostic examination allows not only to detect amblyopia at an early stage when the decrease in visual acuity is reversible but also to determine the cause of the lazy eye, which is required for effective treatment.
Ways to deal with amblyopia
When amblyopia is detected in a child, treatment should be started immediately. It is worth remembering that amblyopia in childhood cannot resolve on its own, it will keep progressing. With proper and timely treatment in childhood, it is possible to regain full visual acuity and normalize binocular vision. There is a special term defining the time when amblyopia treatment is most effective: “sensitive period” which ends by the age of eight or nine. Therefore, the earlier amblyopia is detected and appropriate treatment is started, the greater the probability of complete recovery.
Amblyopia treatment for children
Amblyopia treatment is a difficult multi-stage process requiring effort from both the child and the parents, but the preservation of vision is worth it. Treatment begins with eliminating the cause of amblyopia, and then attention is focused on restoring the functions of the visual analyzer, i.e., on increasing visual acuity. Eximer Ophthalmology Clinic employs state-of-the-art equipment for amblyopia treatment, including unique devices based on the biofeedback principle. The procedures are prescribed individually for every child and monitored by the attending physician at all stages. Timely complex machine-assisted treatment allows restoring visual acuity up to its full normalization.
- Regular diagnosis of the child’s vision with modern equipment. Children should be examined at least once a year, and twice a year if they have vision problems (strabismus, hyperopia).
- Glasses and contact lenses for children should be fitted competently, in a specialized clinic, by an experienced specialist, based on diagnostic examinations.
- Children require their optical correction to be changed from time to time since the child’s visual system evolves and changes. The change should be carried out based on the recommendation and under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.
- Adherence to the visual strain regime; the correct arrangement of the schoolchildren’s workplace.
Amblyopia treatment in adults
Quite recently, amblyopia was considered a condition that could be treated only in early childhood (up to 7-9 years of age). This situation has changed drastically with the advent of the RevitalVision Amblyopia Computer Neural Therapy program. Adult patients now have the opportunity to improve vision lost due to amblyopia.
RevitalVision Amblyopia Computer Neural Therapy
RevitalVision Amblyopia is a set of computer-assisted exercises developed by Israeli doctors, clinically tested, and approved for use in the United States and Israel.
Results of neural therapy clinical trials
- Average improvement in visual acuity up to 2 lines of the optometric chart;
- 100% increase in contrast sensitivity.
The neural therapy is especially effective for patients from 9 to 55 years of age suffering from unilateral amblyopia. The treatment program is adjusted personally for each patient based on the medical findings and the susceptibility of the visual system is constantly adjusted during the treatment.