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Amblyopia or Lazy eye is the eye condition in which vision is reduced and cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. All the images seen by the amblyopic eye are not fully acknowledged by the brain. It always affects only one eye, but may be accompanied with reduction of vision in both eyes. It can cause loss of vision, including loss of depth perception and two-eyed 3D vision. It's treatment can yield improvements at any age, but early detection can offer the best chances for a cure. Recent research has proven that lazy eye treatment can be successful in older children and adults. Comprehensive vision examinations are required for infants, toddlers, and pre-school children for the detection of lazy eye or amblyopia.
When the brain parts related with visual processing do not function properly, problems arise with such visual functions as the perception of movement, depth perception and fine detail (acuity, clear eyesight and sharp vision). Amblyopia is the most prevalent neurological defect of vision in children and adults resulting from developmental problems in the brain. Any interference with clear vision in either eye during the first six years or 'critical' period of visual and brain development can cause a lazy eye.
Constant strabismus or the constant turn of one eye in any direction, be it inward turn or crossed eye is one of common causes of amblyopia. The differences in vision or it's prescription between the two eyes leads to refractive amblyopia. Sometimes congenital disorders or a physical blockage of an eye due to trauma, drooping lids, cataract or a blocked tear duct can also lead to amblyopia. Many parents and children are not aware of any symptoms, as amblyopia usually occurs in one eye only and a lazy eye condition can exist without a noticeable eye turn. The visual acuity tests in addition to the 20/20 eye test charts and eye examination with cycloplegic drops by ophthalmologists are necessary to detect lazy eye.
Vision therapy for the eyes and brain is a highly effective non-surgical treatment for lazy eye. It is a progressive program of vision exercises customized to fit the visual needs of each patient. It is conducted at the clinic and occasionally supplemented with exercises to be done at home or workplace. It improve visual comfort, ease, and efficiency and change how a patient processes or interprets visual information. When considering treatment options, it is important to understand that lazy eye results from neurological deficit or problems in the brain and surgery for lazy eye is performed on the muscles on the outside of the eye. Most of the cases, lazy eye surgery provides cosmetic benefits and does not improve the patient's vision, hence options for vision improvement should be exhausted before eye muscle surgery is considered.
Eye exercises might not necessarily improve eyesight but they help in preventing eye problems and maintaining the correct eyesight level. Eye exercises are usually designed to provide strength to eye muscles, while improving focus, allowing flexible eye movements and helping stimulate the vision centre of the brain.
- Palming: This exercise is also very simple to perform. All you have to do is cover your eyes with your palms. Once you have done this, just wait and see that there are no bright flashes of light. If you see that there is a bright flash of light, just wait till they go. This is used primarily to distress the eyes.
- Flexing: This is simply rotating your eyes in circles. Roll your eyes in the clockwise direction for one minute and then roll your eyes in the anticlockwise direction for one minute.
- Blinking: Your eyes get strained due to long hours of sitting at the computer or television and you tend to blink less. Whenever you blink, your eyes stay in darkness for a few microseconds that help to keep the eyes fresh, while reducing eye strain.
- Stretching: This is the most common and also one of the easiest to do. It requires you to just look up, hold for two seconds, look down, hold for two seconds and then repeat this procedure for each corner of your eye, which means top-left, top-right, bottom-left and bottom-right corners.
- Near and far focusing: This exercise helps in strengthening the eye muscles and improves the vision of your eyes.
It involves the following steps:
- Either sit or stand in a comfortable position for 2-3 minutes
- Bring your thumb about 10 inches in front of your eyes and try to focus on it
- Now try focusing on an object that is about 10-20 feet in front of your eyes
- Try switching between focusing on the other object and your thumb on each deep breath
Eyes are the most important part of our lives. There are various branches of medicine, which treat different aspects of the eye. Chief among them are:
Ophthalmology deals with the structure, physiology and diseases of the eye. On the other hand, optometry is a vision care science, which involves the treatment and rectification of the visual system. Specialists emerging from these two schools of medicines are called Ophthalmologists and optometrists respectively. Though, they both deal with the corrective measures and examination of healthy eyes, there are crucial differences between them.
Some of those differences are listed below:
- Meaning: A specialist in surgical and medical eye problems, who performs operations in the eye is called an Ophthalmologist. On the other hand, an Optometrist is a specialist who has a degree in Doctor of Optometry (OD). He is not a doctor but a trained individual.
- Area of Specialization: Both these specialists have different areas of specialization. An Ophthalmologist specializes in only vision and eye care. He/she has the necessary training to perform operations on the eye. On the other hand, an Optometrist is not a doctor, but a specialist who is involved in diagnosis, management and treatment of vision changes. He/she has the license to perform eye exams and tests and can prescribe corrective lenses.
- Training: Both the specialists differ vastly in their training. An Ophthalmologist is trained to treat all eye problems and is equipped to perform operations. He/she undergoes four years of medical school and one year of internship in any hospital. Optometrists on the other hand, after three or more years in college have to undergo four years of training before receiving a doctor of Optometrist. (OD).