Amblyopia/Strabismus

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Normally, we have two eyes that are meant to see the world equally.
This is called binocular vision.

When one or both eyes have decreased sharpness of vision that is not correctable by spectacles and in the absence of other diseases, this is known as amblyopia, or lazy eye. The amblyopic eye will see images as blurry.

When a child cannot align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions, this visual condition is called strabismus, commonly known as an eye turn or crossed eyes. When the eyes are misaligned, they point in two different directions and see two different things.

Amblyopia is sometimes combined with strabismus. Strabismus may originate in the muscles themselves or in the nerves / vision centres in the brain that control binocular vision. Other causes of amblyopia include severe farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism; having different vision strengths in each eye; genetics; developmental delays, drooping eyelids, or cataracts.

What happens to the brain when one of the eyes are blurry or misaligned?

The brain gets confused. To prevent seeing double, the brain will choose to ignore images from the amblyopic/misaligned eye whilst favouring images sent by the unaffected eye. This is called “suppression”.

The more the brain ignores the affected eye, the more the vision in that eye deteriorates whilst the unaffected eye becomes dominant. If no treatment is given, this may cause permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

In many cases, strabismus is not just an eye muscle issue but how the eye is “wired” to the brain. This explains why an eye turn doesn’t completely go away in some patients even after eye muscle surgery.

Signs and Symptoms Your Child May Have Amblyopia Include...

  • Decreased vision in one or both eyes not corrected by spectacles
  • Eye that turns inwards or outwards
  • Frequent rubbing of eyes, head tilting
  • Child complains of seeing “double”
  • Closing or covering one eye
  • Poor depth perception

Why Should Parents Be Concerned?

Most kids with amblyopia/strabismus won’t complain of vision problems as they become used to having good vision in one eye and poor vision in the other. Not all kids with strabismus will have  wandering eyes, so parents or teachers may be unaware something is wrong.

Children often adapt by suppressing (turning off) the image from the affected eye, which may lead to amblyopia and impaired depth perception (stereopsis) or the ability to see in 3D. This greatly affects how they move in space and other things like playing sport or pouring water in a glass. Failure to detect or waiting too long to start treatment may lead to permanent vision loss of the affected eye.

Surgery may fix the structural aspect of an eye turn by straightening the eye, but may fail to fix the functional aspect (how the brain processes what the eye sees). We had tested patients whose eye turn returned post-surgery, with their parents unaware that something was wrong because their child’s eyes looked aligned!

Amblyopia/Strabismus that is left alone may negatively affect the child’s quality of life even as they become adults. This may cause emotional issues (e.g., difficulty forming meaningful relationships because of lowered self-esteem) as well as practical (e.g., limited career choices, difficulty driving, etc.)

How Can We Help?

Comprehensive Eye Test

Amblyopia/Strabismus don’t go away on their own, but when recognised and treated effectively, they can be cured. Our first step is to detect amblyopia/strabismus during our comprehensive eye test so that we can begin an immediate treatment plan.

The Best Treatment Options

We offer safe, effective and nonsurgical methods that have helped many of our patients improve their visual skills symptoms; these include patching, low-dose atropine and vision therapy. If there’s a need, we may refer your child for surgery.

Training the Brain to “See” Better

We’ll help your child train their brain to process visual information efficiently—that is to stop suppressing their amblyopic eye and begin to accept visual input from it in order for that eye to regain visual function.

Your Child’s Best Possible Vision

Our goal for your child is that they’ll be able to control their eyes with increased efficiency and agility, increase their self-confidence and improve their academic performance as well as quality of life by giving them the best possible vision.

Do you suspect amblyopia or strabismus in your child?

Book a Comprehensive Eye Test Today.

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