Caterna | Updates

By Michael Scherrer

Caterna informs: What is amblyopia and how is it treated?


Dear Companists,

When our employees tell others where they work - an online vision school for children with amblyopia - they always hear the question: "Amblyo-what?" The easiest answer: "The children with eye patches." The response is usually, "Ah, okay, yeah, I know." Almost everyone knows children who have an eye patch on, whether among their own acquaintances or from seeing.

If you don't keep thinking about why they wear eye patches, you rarely learn about amblyopia as an adult. Therefore, today's update is about amblyopia.

Amblyopia – from the Greek word amblyopia, blunt eye - is a reduction in eyesight, although the organic and neuronal conditions for good vision are present or were once present. What does that mean? Normally, the images that both eyes send to the brain are processed equally. During a child's developmental phase, however, it may happen that one eye provides a sharper image. The brain then prefers this eye, hindering the development of the weaker eye's visual performance.

The medical term for this is amblyopia. In Germany, about 6% of all children are affected by amblyopia.


Causes of amblyopia

The most common cause of amblyopia is being cross-eyed (strabismus): the child perceives a double image due to the malalignment of the eyes. This is why the brain simply suppresses the disturbing image sent by the crossed eye. About half of all cases involve this kind of suppressive amblyopia.

Amblyopia can also be caused by the withdrawal of stimuli: Congenital cataracts, high ametropia, corneal injuries, or eyelid malpositions can lead to a reduced or completely absent visual stimulus on the retina, developing amblyopia. Mixed forms are also common; examples are cross-eyed children with high visual defects or young patients with a pronounced difference in the refractive power of both eyes.


Diagnosis and therapy by ophthalmologists and orthoptists

Ophthalmologists and orthoptists are responsible for diagnosing and treating amblyopia. They can identify the cause of amblyopia and initiate the necessary treatment steps by means of eye tests for children and diagnostic examinations. It is important that such a visual impairment is detected promptly: This is one of the reasons why we always emphasize the necessity of preventive ophthalmological examinations, even for small children.

Amblyopia should be treated as quickly and consistently as possible, as visual defects are easier to correct in younger years. There are different treatment methods depending on the cause of the amblyopia: In many cases, it is necessary to adjust glasses to compensate for refractive differences and strabismus angles. In some cases, operations are also necessary to treat organic causes or to correct very severe strabismus.

However, the proven method of choice for most cases of amblyopia is and remains occlusion. The weak eye is stimulated by covering the healthy eye with a patch that is applied directly to the skin.

The Caterna Vision Training can be used in addition to this occlusion therapy. The children play the Caterna games during the daily eye occlusion time, while the wave pattern in the background stimulates the weak eye. This procedure is based on old pleoptic therapy approaches, which were adapted to a new digital design during the development of Caterna.


Best greetings,

Michael Scherrer


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