The La Cañada Junior Women’s Club will hold free eye screenings for amblyopia, commonly known as “lazy eye,” at local preschools this April.
About 3% of children have some form of this condition. It is not an eye disease and is fully curable if detected early. Amblyopia is when the vision in one eye does not develop properly. Standard eye tests for 3- and 4-year-olds do not test for this condition, which is one reason these eye screenings are so important. The good news is that amblyopia is curable until approximately age 6. After that age, the child’s brain learns to ignore the blurry image from the weaker eye and amblyopia becomes almost impossible to reverse.
It usually begins when one eye has much better focus than the other eye. For example, there is astigmatism in one eye and not the other, or one eye is very far sighted. The child’s brain then receives one clear image and one blurry image. The brain begins to “ignore” the blurry image, and the vision in the weaker eye starts to deteriorate. If left untreated, a child’s vision will not develop properly in that eye. It can also be caused by the misalignment of one eye, or strabismus. The misalignment can cause double vision and trouble focusing the eyes together.
Amblyopia screening is personal to one Junior who is now co-chair of the Juniors’ eye screening program. In the spring of 2013, while Stephanie Ryan was volunteering at the club’s eye screening at a local preschool, she asked volunteers to pay special attention to her son. She and her husband had taken their son Lincoln to two eye doctors in the past as they knew something was off. However, since screening for amblyopia is not included in a standard eye test, it did not get caught. The Juniors’ eye screeners noted a possible problem and a referral to an ophthalmologist confirmed that young Lincoln indeed had amblyopia. Treatment involved wearing an eye patch and blurring the vision in his good eye for less than a week. At his one-year checkup, Lincoln’s weak eye had dramatically improved and at his two-year checkup, his amblyopia was resolved.
For more information on the Juniors’ eye screening program, contact co-chairs Stephanie Ryan at Ryan.Stephanie@yahoo.com or Kyle Grimes at firstname.lastname@example.org.