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Amblyopia is decreased vision in one or both eyes due to abnormal visual stimulation.

The brain needs to receive clear, retinal images in both eyes simultaneously during the development of the visual system. If this development does not occur normally the area of the brain that corresponds to the vision of one eye will not develop normally.

Amblyopia occurs in 1% to 2% of the general population and is the main cause for decrease vision in children.

When amblyopia occurs in both eyes, the child gets close to objects to see them better, or squints.

However, if it occurs in one eye only; amblyopia can be asymptomatic.

Unlike what is commonly believed, amblyopia does not cause headaches, dizziness or any other symptom.

The most common causes of amblyopia include strabismus, farsightedness, astigmatism, opacities in the eye or congenital cataract and trauma.

Children are susceptible to amblyopia from birth up to 7 or 8 years old.

The earlier the abnormal visual stimulation, the more severe visual deficit.

When amblyopia affects one eye, patching is the current treatment,this consists in placing a patch over the sound eye.
When both eyes are affected, treatment should try to correct the cause.

In some cases, a drop that dilates the pupil is used to "delete" vision temporarily, generating the same effect as the patch. Another option is to dilate the pupil of the sound eye with an eyedrop. This drop blurs the image of the eye enhancing the visual development of the amblyopic eye.

In adults, no treatment has been found for this condition.

What is the patch for?
The healthy eye is occluded or covered with a patch to force the vision of the bad eye to develop further.

When should treatment with occlusion start?
As soon as amblyopia is diagnosed. The earlier the treatment begins, the faster the recovery.
If the child is old enough to understand, you have to explain why he/she should use the patch.

How long will the child need to use the patch?
In very young children, changes in vision occur rapidly.
The time varies from case to case.
As a general rule, the younger the child, the shorter the period the patch must be used. The older the child, the longer the time he/she will need to use the patch.
Once an improvement in the vision of the affected eye is detected, occlusion therapy should continue to prevent a relapse.

Will the patch correct the "deviation" of the eyes?
No. The patch only improves vision, but it won’t correct the alignment of the eyes. Once the vision of the affected eye recovers, the pediatric ophthalmologist should correct the strabismus or misalignment.

Up to what age is occlusion treatment possible?
Occlusion is done during the period of vision development, from birth to 8 years of age.

What kind of patch is used?
Almost any type of patch can be used.
The important thing is that the patch must prevent vision completely, and be comfortable and firm, without letting the child peak.
Patches are available in pharmacies. And they come in different sizes, according to different ages. Also, a folded gauze secured with tape can serve as a patch. In contrast, elastic patches are not suitable because they are usually easier for the child to remove and allow him to peak.

What should I do if the skin is inflamed or irritated?
You should try a different patch. Take it off at night. Change the position of the eye patch, to another location. Furthermore, it is feasible to treat irritation with dermatological products. Replacing with a gauze patch with hypoallergenic tape can also help.