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What is The Difference Between Amblyopia and Strabismus

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Difference between amblyopia and strabismus.

People often believe that strabismus somewhat equals amblyopia and vice versa, and whilst these two often coexist they should not be inherently considered as coinciding entities. We shall explain what is the difference between amblyopia and strabismus in today’s blog. 

Amblyopia: The “Lazy Eye”

Amblyopia, as you are probably aware, is a disorder that is characterized by decreased visual function (visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, etc.) without any detectable pathological abnormalities of the eye.

Lazy Eye Happens by Another Underlying Cause

It is a disorder that practically never arises by itself it is always triggered by another underlying condition. Even though visual deprivation such as congenital cataracts, for instance, does trigger severe amblyopia, it is most commonly caused by unrecognized refractive errors such as anisometropia, followed closely by – yes you have guessed it – strabismus.

Lazy Eye Symptoms

Symptoms of amblyopia include poor depth perception, reduced visual acuity, and difficulties with activities that require clear binocular vision, such as reading or playing sports.

Treatment of Amblyopia

The treatment of amblyopia consists of (A) treatment of the cause and (B) treatment of amblyopia itself.

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(A) Treatment of the cause very much depends on the actual cause and is sometimes enough to halt the amblyopia progression.
(B) Treatment of amblyopia itself, on the other hand, is aimed specifically to restore the visual function and consists of patching, penalization and vision training.

Strabismus: The “Crossed Eyes”

Strabismus or crossed eyes is a condition characterized by eye misalignment. It can be classified as congenital, acquired, or secondary to other ocular pathology.

Strabismus Can Develop for Various Reasons

Strabismus can develop for various reasons, including muscle imbalances, nerve issues, or problems with eye movement control. It can occur in both children and adults and may result in double vision, eye strain, and a reduction in depth perception.

Crossed Eyes Symptoms

In children, it may or may not cause amblyopia. Luckily, eye misalignment is usually very easy to spot and kids with strabismus are often referred to an ophthalmologist early.

Treatment of Strabismus

Therefore, the treatment of strabismus and possible overlying amblyopia is usually initiated early, which maximizes treatment success. Although certain forms of strabismus can cure on their own, sometimes a special treatment with a combination of specialized prisms glasses, medication, or surgery is needed in order to alleviate the eye misalignment.

Key Differences Between Amblyopia and Strabismus

Amblyopia Strabismus
Nature of the conditionAmblyopia is primarily a vision-related neurological development disorder resulting from the brain favouring one eye over the other.Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes, leading to a lack of coordination between them.
SymptomsReduced vision, poor depth perception, and difficulties with binocular activities.Visible eye misalignment, double vision, and eye strain.
Treatment FocusAmblyopia treatment focuses on promoting the use of the weaker eye through corrective measures like glasses and vision therapy.Strabismus treatment aims to correct the misalignment, often through glasses, vision therapy, or surgery.

Conclusion: The Difference Between Amblyopia and Strabismus

In conclusion, while amblyopia and strabismus can coincide, not every amblyopia is caused by strabismus, and not every strabismus will lead to the development of amblyopia.

If, however, amblyopia is caused by underlying strabismus, a combination of a treatment aimed specifically at amblyopia and a treatment designed specifically for strabismus will provide the best results.

What comes first will usually be decided on an individual basis. A high-quality vision training programme such as AmblyoPlay can nonetheless be effective in trating amblyopia caused by either strabismus or any other reason for that matter. 

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Regular eye examinations, especially in childhood, are essential for identifying and addressing these issues early on.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can amblyopia and strabismus occur together?

Yes, it is possible for amblyopia and strabismus to coexist. In some cases, the misalignment of the eyes in strabismus can lead to amblyopia.

Are these conditions only found in children, or can adults develop amblyopia and strabismus as well?

While amblyopia and strabismus often manifest in childhood, they can affect individuals of any age. In adults, these conditions may result from various factors, including eye muscle imbalances, trauma, or neurological issues.

How can parents or individuals recognize the signs of amblyopia and strabismus in their children or themselves?

Signs of amblyopia in children may include poor depth perception, squinting, or complaints of blurry vision. Strabismus is often noticeable through the misalignment of the eyes. Regular eye examinations, especially during early childhood, can help detect these conditions. In adults, symptoms like double vision or eye strain may indicate the presence of strabismus.

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Based on the data from over 15,000 patients using AmblyoPlay, improvements start within 4 months, while optimal results take anywhere between 6-18 months on average. The duration of required training depends on the patient’s age, the severity of the problem, accompanying diseases, and adherence to the training program.

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