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Vision Problems Affect Many Preschoolers

Early detection and treatment of eye conditions can save sight

TUESDAY, Aug. 6, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Early detection and treatment is essential for two common eye conditions in children that can cause serious vision problems later in life, says Prevent Blindness America (PBA).

Amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed or improperly aligned eyes) affect as many as one in 20 preschool children.

Amblyopia has a number of causes, including any underlying condition that causes the brain to receive images of unequal quality. For example, one eye may focus better than the other eye.

Most often, it's the result of a misalignment of a child's eyes, such as crossed eyes. The sooner amblyopia is detected and treated, the better the chance of correcting it. Eye drops may be as effective as patching, PBA says.

Strabismus happens when the eye muscles fail to work in unison. The condition may be present at birth, develop at a later age, or may result from illness or injury. Treatments include glasses, eye exercises, eye drops or ointment, and surgery.

If strabismus is left untreated, it can lead to amblyopia and blindness in an eye, PBA says.

About 1.5 million children were screened last year by PBA. About 10 percent of the children were referred for eye exams after possible vision abnormalities were detected during the screening.

More information

You can get additional insights into amblyopia and strabismus at PBA. There's also a support group for parents and children called the Eye Patch Club.

SOURCE: Prevent Blindness America news release, July 2002
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