Amblyopia: Definition, Risk Factors, and Preventing Vision Loss
What Is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia definition: one eye’s vision has been reduced because the eye and the brain have not been working together properly. This condition usually begins when someone’s eyes have different strengths. As the brain favors the strong eye and ignores the images coming from the weak eye, the differential strengths (and quality of nerve pathways) become larger. Amblyopia is the medical term for lazy eye.
The ongoing favoring of the strong eye prevents the weak eye’s vision from fully developing and can result in its permanent vision loss. When this happens, even glasses cannot help make up for the vision that has been lost. Glasses can still be prescribed to help a child see more clearly, but perfectly clear vision cannot be obtained when amblyopia has caused vision loss.
Amblyopia’s Impact on Learning and Quality of Life in Children
- It’s harder to learn in the short-term. Lost and blurred vision prevent children from seeing the chalkboard.
- Amblyopia is associated with decreased long-term educational achievement and narrowed career choices
- It leads to reduced motor skills. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18235004
- Amblyopia leads to feelings of isolation/differing from others
- It leads to lower self-esteem and self-image
- Amblyopia is associated with higher rates of depression, frustration, and embarrassment
- It results in strained relationships with family members (e.g.siblings), and higher stress and anxiety for parents
- Amblyopia is associated with increased bullying
- It leads to lower-quality interaction with peers
- Conservative estimates, excluding financial burden on the healthcare system, approximate the U.S. economic impact of amblyopia to be $23 Billion
Common Amblyogenic Factors
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, refractive disorders lead to amblyopia more than any other vision error categories (e.g. gaze, deprivational). The following vision disorders are the most common amblyogenic factors:
- Unequal prescriptions between both eyes (anisometropia): The condition that results when the vision in each eye is different
- Farsightedness (hyperopia): The ability to see far away but not up close
- Nearsightedness (myopia): The ability to see up close but not far away
When any of these amblyogenic factors are detected, it is possible that a child could have or develop amblyopia. Whether or not amblyopia is present, the risk factors alone may require a prescription for glasses so the child is able to see clearly.
Early detection is crucial because permanent vision loss is preventable when vision issues are identified and treated before age 5. GoCheck Kids helps pediatricians detect these risk factors with high specificity in patients too young for a visual acuity test.
- It’s the leading cause of vision loss in both kids and adults, and the single most preventable disabling condition among children.
- More than 1 in 5 children are at risk for amblyopia.
- Amblyopia treatment works best if initiated before the age of 5.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends annual photoscreening to detect amblyopia risk factors beginning at ages 1-3.
Pediatricians across the United States have turned to GoCheck Kids to protect the vision (and potential) of the children in their care.
As you can see, amblyopia is very serious. Luckily, photoscreening is a proven method to detect amblyopia risk factors in your patients before too young for a visual acuity test.
Better yet, you can try GoCheck Kids today.
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