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A commonly overlooked eye problem

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Megan’s eye problems began right at the school blackboard. Even with glasses, she still strained to see. This alarmed her mother Cheryl, who immediately made an appointment with Virtua pediatric ophthalmologist Bruce Schnall, MD.

After a thorough exam, Dr. Schnall diagnosed Megan with amblyopia and strabismus — also known as lazy eye.

A lazy eye prevents the eye from focusing properly on the outside world because the signal between the eye and brain are not working together properly. The result is the loss of vision in the affected eye, as well as an eye that may drift off to one side. “The brain ignores the image from the weaker eye and depends on the stronger eye alone. This results in impaired vision,” Dr. Schnall states.

For younger children, up to age 10, treatments for amblyopia include placing a patch over the more dominant eye. This forces the weaker eye to forge a connection with the brain. Another alternative is the use of medical eye drops. Megan wore a patch which improved her vision. However after wearing the patch her eye continued to drift, so outpatient surgery was performed to correct her eye misalignment.

Lazy eye does not always manifest as an eye that drifts or is misaligned within the eye socket. So, it’s important for a parent to speak with a pediatrician about a child’s vision — to ensure the child is seeing properly, and to make the physician aware of any family history of amblyopia.

After Megan’s same-day surgery, she literally recovered overnight. Within a day, she was back to her normal activities. Now, Megan sees the blackboard clearly — just like everyone else.