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Will glasses help a child with amblyopia to see better?Maybe, but they may not correct it all the way to 20/20. With amblyopia, the brain is “used to” seeing a blurry image and it cannot interpret the clear image that the glasses produce. With time, however, the brain may “re-learn” how to see and the vision may increase. Remember, glasses alone do not increase the vision all the way to 20/20, as the brain is used to seeing blurry with that eye. For that reason, the normal eye is treated (with patching or eyedrops) to make the amblyopic (weak) eye stronger.
What can be done if my child has equal high amounts of farsightedness and/or astigmatism and is diagnosed with bilateral amblyopia?Bilateral amblyopia is usually treated with consistent, early glasses, and or contact lenses with follow-up over a long period of time. If asymmetric amblyopia (one eye better than the other) occurs, then patching or eye drops may be added.
When should amblyopia be treated?Early treatment is always best. If necessary, children with refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) can wear glasses or contact lenses when they are as young as one week old. Children with cataracts or other “amblyogenic” conditions are usually treated promptly in order to minimize the development of amblyopia.
How old is TOO old for amblyopia treatment?A recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) study confirmed that SOME improvement in vision can be attained with amblyopia therapy initiated in younger teenagers (through age 14 years). Better treatment success is achieved when treatment starts early, however.
How can I get early treatment for amblyopia?Some forms of amblyopia, such as that associated with large-deviation strabismus, may be easily detected by parents. Other types of amblyopia (from high refractive error) might cause a child to move very close to objects or squint his or her eyes. Still other forms of amblyopia may NOT be obvious to parents and therefore must be detected by Vision Screening.
How is amblyopia treated?One of the most important treatments of amblyopia is correcting the refractive error with consistent use of glasses and/or contact lenses. Other mainstays of amblyopia treatment are to enable as clear an image as possible (for example, by removing a cataract), and forcing the child to use the nondominant eye (via patching or eyedrops to blur the better-seeing eye).
Can surgery be performed to treat amblyopia?Surgery on the eye muscles is a treatment for strabismus - it can straighten misaligned eyes. By itself, however, surgery does not usually or completely help the amblyopia. Surgery to make the eyes straight can only help enable the eyes to work together as a team. Children with strabismic amblyopia still need close monitoring and treatment for the amblyopia, and this treatment is usually performed before strabismus surgery is considered.
Children who are born with cataracts may need surgery to take out the cataracts. After surgery, the child will usually need vision correction with glasses or contact lenses and patching.
What are appropriate goals of amblyopia treatment?|In all cases, the goal is the best possible vision in each eye. While not every child can be improved to 20/20, most can obtain a substantial improvement in vision. Although there are exceptions, patching does not usually work as well in children who are older than 9 years of age.
What happens if amblyopia treatment does not work?In some cases, treatment for amblyopia may not succeed in substantially improving vision. It is hard to decide to stop treatment, but sometimes it is best for both the child and the family. Children who have amblyopia in one eye and good vision only in their other eye can wear safety glasses and sports goggles to protect the normal eye from injury. As long as the good eye stays healthy, these children function normally in most aspects of society
Where can I learn more about amblyopia research?More information about past and ongoing clinical studies regarding amblyopia can be found at the National Eye Institute web site.
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