PETALING JAYA: A Health Ministry study shows that 7% of Malaysian preschool children have “lazy eye”, according to a specialist.
ParkCity Medical Centre consultant ophthalmologist and paediatric ophthalmologist Dr Norazah Abdul Rahman said that lazy eye or amblyopia means decreased vision in one or both eyes due to abnormal development of vision during infancy or early childhood.
“The prevalence of amblyopia worldwide is between 3% and 5%.
“The lazy eye condition can go undetected in most cases as the eye appears normal for most children, ” she said.
Dr Norazah will be speaking on the topic at the StarLIVE “Better Eyes For A Better Life” talk at Menara Star here on Nov 23.
On symptoms of amblyopia, Dr Norazah said the child may have an eye that wanders or does not move with the other eye, the child may cry or object when one eye is covered or closed, the child will try to improve vision by squinting or there may be conditions that obstruct vision such as droopy upper eyelid.
Causes of amblyopia include high refractive error in an eye (when one eye cannot focus well because of a problem with its shape), different refractive power in both eyes, misalignment of the eyes (strabismus) and blocking of the visual pathway such as cataract and droopy eyelids, she said.
“Lazy eye can become irreversible and even cause blindness if not detected early and treated, ” she said.
Treatment depending on the cause include corrective glasses to achieve a clear image, forcing the lazy eye to work by means of patching the good eye, eye drops to blur the image of the good eye, surgery to realign the squint eye and use of latest dichoptic binocular software games and special goggles to stimulate both eyes for vision improvement.
Dr Norazah shared that 25% to 30% of her patients aged between four and eight years have been diagnosed with lazy eye.
She advised parents to pay attention to their children and send them for visual screening upon noticing any problematic eye symptoms.
At StarLive, Dr Norazah’s colleague, consultant ophthalmologist and glaucoma surgeon Dr Lee Ming Yueh will talk about the importance of early detection of glaucoma – a chronic eye disease with progressive damage of the optic nerve.
“A normal eye produces fluid which is called aqueous to bring in oxygen and nutrients to nourish the structure inside the eye.
“Then the fluid is drained out of the eye through the angle of the eye (the drainage canals are at the peripheral where the iris and cornea meet).
“Glaucoma develops when the eye’s drainage canals become blocked. The pressure inside the eye rises subsequent to the blockage.
“Increased eye pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve directly by mechanical force and indirectly by impairing its blood supply.
“As individual nerves are damaged in glaucoma, there will be less information transmitted to the brain. The nerve loss is irreversible, meaning there is no way we can grow new nerves to replace the damaged ones, ” she said.
The StarLIVE talk, organised by The Star and Ramsay Sime Darby, will be held on Nov 23 (9am) at Menara Star. The first 100 attendees will get free vision and eye pressure checks.
Admission is free and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, go to http://starlive.eventbrite.com.