Amblyopia is better known as a lazy eye, this condition affects 3% of children under the age of six years old, the condition cannot be fully correct with just wearing glasses or contact lenses, however wearing glasses or patches can help to improve eye sight.
The condition usually only affects one eye but it can reduce sight in the other eye as well. In most cases full eye sight can be restored providing the condition has been treated early enough, if the condition has not been detected up until or after the age of eight then some vision may be lost.
Some of the symptoms of this condition may not always be noticable and it could go undetected for years, however other kids could have a squint, headaches, or crossed eyes, these are all signs of an underlying eye problem, anyone who has these symptoms should visit their GP as soon as possible.
The causes of Amblyopia (lazy eye) are something that interferes with the eye sight from six months to six years old, one oof the most common causes is constant strabismus, which is better known as a turn in the eye, other causes could be a blockage due to having cataract, trauma or lid droop. Astigmatism canalso lead to a lazy eye, this is a condition which is common for young chilren to have but most children will grow out of it, however some children wont and therefore this condition can lead to astgmatism amblyopia.
This condition cannot be spotted by the usual 20/20 eye chart screening, a Pediatrician would have to use cyclopegic drops to be able to detect this condition. Amblyopia treatment would involve wearing glasses, to improve sight using drops, vision therapy and patching to stregthen the weaker eye, the condition can be successfully treated up until the age of seventeen years old after this there would need to be more vision therapy for the patient and the treatment can still be successful.
There are several treatments for this condition and your GP would refer you to your local hospitial to see the eye specialist, then this is where they will arrange treatment to strengthen and hopefully completely repair the eye sight, once the eye has been stregthened and the eye sight repaired then the specialist might then give you the option of have corrective lazy eye surgery.
Lazer eye surgery is not the only solution for this condition, there are other solutions available to correct amblyopia that could be just as good as having corrective surgery, as I mentioned earlier vision therapy is a non surgicial treatment which can improve eye alignment, eye teaming, eye focusing abilities, eye movements and visual processing, so therefore this could be a good method of treatment without using surgery.
If the decision is made to have a surgicial procedure, this operation is available on the NHS, there are a number of eye specialists across the country and your GP would be able to advise you where you could find your local eye specialist.
If choosing the surgery you must be aware of the fact that the surgery will only be allowed if the vision is at a certain level, this level should be reached by earlier treatment to strengthen the weaker eye by using patches and improvements to the sight by wearing glasses.
Certain things should be made clear before the surgery such as the procedure only take a short while so therfore the patient can usually leave the hospital in the same day, on the morning of the operation the patient should not eat or drink anything and there is a small risk that if the eye were to become infected after the procedure all sight in the eye could be lost (but this is a really small risk).
Another thing that you should be aware of lazy eye surgery will not improve the sight, the operation is mainly to make the lazy eye less noticable, so therefore glasses will still be needed after the surgery. Another point to remember is that the lazy eye may return at a later dat and more surgery may be needed to correct it again, although this is not always the case.
Before making a decision for your child to have this eye surgery speak to your doctor and family members and your child (if they are old enough) as I said earlier the operation will only improve the squint or crossed eyes, but glasses may still be needed.