Amblyopia or lazy eye is a condition that can often go unnoticed, as children may not complain about their vision, making it essential for parents to be vigilant and informed. Understanding how a child with amblyopia sees is the first step in addressing this condition and seeking the appropriate treatment. In this blog post, we will explore what amblyopia is, how it affects a child’s vision, and what can be done to improve their eyesight.
Amblyopia, often called “lazy eye,” is a condition that affects the normal vision in one eye and also impacts binocular vision, i.e. how both eyes work together. In amblyopia, the affected eye may have reduced sharpness of vision (visual acuity) and difficulty seeing contrasts when looked at separately.
Amblyopia is a condition in which the brain and the affected eye do not work together effectively.
When using both eyes together, children with amblyopia might struggle with judging depth and distance. It all reads rather straightforward on paper but how exactly children perceive or do not perceive those impairments?
Unseen Struggles: Amblyopia’s Silent Presence in Children
In many cases, children with amblyopia don’t realize they have any vision issues. Indeed, very often they do not acknowledge that anything is wrong with their eyes and vision. Very often, children appear perfectly normal without any noticeable difficulties whatsoever that can be related to their amblyopia. Typically, it’s only during routine school checkups that potential issues with one of their eyes are detected.
Since amblyopia usually evolves gradually and the children’s brain is highly adaptable, the image from the amblyopic eye, slowly but surely decreasing in its quality, can be easily suppressed by the kids’ brain. This means kids may not experience symptoms like double or blurry vision.
In some cases, refractive issues like anisometropia can go unnoticed for a long time before amblyopia is detected, which can make treatment less effective if it’s started late. That said, the fact that children often do not notice the impairments does not mean that they are not there. Any amblyopia, bothersome to the child or not, has to be properly addressed.
Thankfully, frequent routine medical examinations that include basic visual acuity testing easily uncover that one of the kids’ two eyes is inferior to the other and further examinations to address this issue are then indicated.
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How Does a Child with Amblyopia See?
The vision of a child with amblyopia can vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. It’s important to note that amblyopia does not necessarily result in blindness in the affected eye, but it can significantly impact the quality of vision. Here’s how a child with amblyopia might see:
- Reduced Visual Acuity: The most common symptom of amblyopia is reduced visual acuity in the affected eye. This means that the child’s ability to see fine details, read letters on an eye chart, or recognize objects at a distance is compromised. The degree of reduction in visual acuity can range from mild to severe.
- Lack of Depth Perception: Children with amblyopia may struggle with depth perception, making tasks like judging distances, catching a ball, or playing sports challenging.
- Suppression: To avoid double vision caused by the misalignment of the eyes (strabismus), the brain often suppresses the image from the weaker eye. As a result, the child may not be aware of the visual impairment in the affected eye, which can make it difficult for parents to recognize the issue.
- Blurred Vision: The vision in the amblyopic eye is often blurred or distorted, leading to difficulty in reading, recognizing faces, or perceiving fine details.