order to answer some of your general questions about eye care,
please send your questions to “Ask the Eye Care Specialist,” c/o
Education Update, 276 Fifth Ave., Suite 1005, New York, NY, 10001
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will try to answer as many questions as possible in this column.
Specific diagnoses of eye diseases or conditions cannot be made.
The answers given in this column must not take the place of your
the Eye Care Specialist
Mitchell Strominger, MD
QUESTION: What is Amblyopia?
ANSWER: Amblyopia is sometimes called
“lazy eye.” Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop
normal sight during early childhood. Equal vision from both eyes
stimulate brain cells in the back of the brain “occipital lobe”
to develop normally. Without equal visual input, the brain cells
stimulated from the abnormal eye develop poorly. Amblyopia, when
treated early in infancy or childhood, can often be corrected
because children’s vision continues to develop until they are
eight years old. After age eight, the change may be permanent.
Since four out of every 100 persons have some form of amblyopia,
it is very important that all children have their vision checked
by an eye care professional, pediatrician or family physician
at or before age three, especially if there is a family history
of poor vision. Be aware that a child who has amblyopia may look
normal to others.
There are three major causes of amblyopia:
refractive amblyopia (unequal focus), strabismic amblyopia (misaligned
eye) and cloudiness in the normally clear eye tissue.
When one eye is stronger than the other,
glasses may be given to make the vision in both eyes equal and
allow for the eyes to develop normally. A child with strabismus,
or “crossed eye,” may develop strabismic amblyopia. The crossed
or misaligned eye “turns off” to avoid double vision, and the
child prefers the better (uncrossed) eye. Both eyes must be aligned
for better vision and the development of depth perception. Surgery
may be needed to correct the problem.
Children with extreme farsightedness (can’t
see up close) try very hard to focus, even though it is difficult.
With this increased effort, the eye may turn inward. This form
of amblyopia may be corrected with glasses so the child can focus
easier. The eyes may straighten themselves out (accommodative
Dr. Strominger is Director, Pediatric
Ophthalmology, Maimonides Medical Center, SUNY Downstate.
For more information on finding an eye
care professional near you, or if you have difficulty paying for
your child’s eye care, please contact Lori Brenig, MPH, The New
York City Children’s Vision Coalition, 212-980-2020, x13.
If you would like to make a donation
to help children get the necessary eye care, please send to: New
York City Children’s Vision Coalition, 149 Madison Avenue, Suite
805, New York, NY 10016. Thank you!
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