Amblyopia

Bethel Lions SEE Program

The Bethel Lions Club has undertaken the important task of screening children ages 0 to 5 years for vision problems. The instrument we use is completely non-invasive and takes a few seconds to obtain a reading.  In addition, the program adheres strictly to the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines to assure complete confidentiality. We are doing these screenings together with the LIONS SEE (Screening Eyes Early) Program of New York State and the Ira G. Ross Eye Institute in Buffalo. The screenings are completely free of charge to the parents. LIONS SEE Consent Form

Why are we doing these screenings? As LIONS, we care about the vision of our children and we have a safe and effective tool to screen children for visual problems which,  if left untreated could lead to Amblyopia and blindness.

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is the loss of an eye’s ability to see details.  The cause is from lack of use of that eye in early childhood. The eyes of very young children will not develop correctly unless vision is aligned, balanced and focused. Sometimes the vision in one eye is worse than the vision in the other eye. When this happens, the brain will start to “ignore” the eye with somewhat bad vision. This actually makes the vision in that eye even worse.

With Amblyopia, not only will the image be blurry, it will get very dim. The eye can also stop moving normally, and it might stay turned away to the side. This is why Amblyopia is sometimes called “lazy eye,” according to the reference from the Cleveland Clinic.

The prevalence of Amblyopia ranges from 1.0-3.5% in healthy children.

Amblyopia can be caused by any condition that causes one eye to be favored and the other ignored by the brain.

Some of the causes which can lead to Amblyopia include strabismus (crossed eyes), farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism (a condition in which the cornea–the clear covering of the front of the eye–has an abnormal curve, causing out-of-focus vision) and childhood cataracts.

Amblyopia often starts before there is any obvious sign that something is wrong. This is why babies and young children need to have their eyes checked at regularly scheduled appointments with the doctor.

In addition to your child’s regular doctor’s visits for check-ups, vision screening using an instrument which measures the refractive error (the leading cause of Amblyopia) in a child’s eyes is available.  This test is non-invasive and takes a few seconds to perform.

Specially trained Lions Club volunteers will visit child care facilities and take digital readings of children whose parents have agreed to participate. The digital readings will be sent to, read and evaluated by professionals at the Ira G. Ross Eye Institute in Buffalo. The parents will be notified of the results promptly…usually within two weeks. Again, please note that this service is provided free of charge by the LIONS SEE Program and your local LIONS club. Follow-up information and assistance, including a list of local optometrists and ophthalmologists, will be provided.

Only a doctor can recommend the right treatment for a child at risk for Amblyopia.  The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the better the result.  If left untreated, Amblyopia can lead to blindness.  Conversely, if treatment is started early enough, most children will regain normal vision.

 Maria Frangipane, Bethel Lion’s SEE Program Chair, Sullivan County Sight & Hearing Committee