Amblyopia: Vision Specialists Advise Families to Screen

Eye care specialists at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are urging parents to screen their children for a disorder that can potentially cause permanent vision loss, as part of National Amblyopia Month.

Amblyopia, often called "lazy eye," is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood. It is the most common vision problem in preschool-age children. As many as 7,800 Iowa children under age 4 have poor vision in at least one eye.

"When undetected or left untreated, amblyopia can result in permanent vision loss," said Ronald Keech, MD, UI professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences. Keech also serves as service director of pediatric ophthalmology and the adult strabismus clinic.

Early detection of amblyopia is critical to your child's eyesight. It is as simple as having your child's picture taken. Local Lions Club volunteers are trained to use a special camera, called the MTI Photoscreener, which takes special Polaroid pictures of a child's eyes to detect vision problems. The MTI PhotoScreener is the only portable, commercially available instant camera in the world that screens children's vision in an effective, non-invasive way.

"The camera tests eyesight for six disorders that may lead to lazy eye," said Richard Olson, MD, UI associate professor of ophthalmology. "When we detect amblyopia in children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years, we can prevent vision loss."

University of Iowa Health Science Relations and Ronald Keech, MD