Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye is the deficiency in central vision development caused by the failure of both eyes to work in unison. With most cases of lazy eye the eyes themselves are typically in good health however the condition cannot be corrected by just the use of prescription lenses. When untreated lazy eye can result in serious visual impairment, even loss of sight in that eye.
Lazy eye is the most common cause of sight impairment in childhood. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the disorder is often difficult to discern. The earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment starts the greater the possibility of complete vision restoration. Those that don’t start to be treated until they are teenagers or adults frequently find that it can take much longer and is less effective.
This is why it is crucial to have your child’s eyes tested at a young age. The American Optometric Association recommends that children receive a comprehensive optometric examination by the age of half a year and again by age three.
Causes of Amblyopia
Lazy eye can be caused by any condition that affects typical eye and vision development. One common cause is strabismus, an imbalance in the location of the eyes. Such misalignment results in eyes that cross in (estropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Sometimes amblyopia is caused when the eyes have different levels of acuity. This is the result of a condition called anisometropia. Occasionally, amblyopia is caused by other optical conditions such as a cataract or another pathological impairment.
Treating Lazy Eye
Lazy eye is treated by efforts to achieve normal visual acuity to both eyes. In addition to wearing prescription lenses, the most common way to do this involves forcing the child to use the eye with the reduced vision. A few treatment options exist to do this and the treatment is chosen according to the individual situation and the decision of the eye doctor.
Frequently you will see patching, where a patch is used to occlude the good eye. A patch compels the patient to use the weaker eye, which stimulates proper sight in the weak eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop properly. However this treatment greatly depends on cooperation with wearing the patch, which can be a problem especially with children.
Some eye care professionals decide to use atropine. When applied to the better eye, atropine drops temporarily obscure the vision to force the use of the weaker eye.
Alternatives to these treatments include vision therapy to train the eyes to work together as a team and in some cases a surgical procedure to straighten out the alignment of the eyes. Special contact lenses or other sight aides are also sometimes employed.
Since amblyopia involves a disruption in the proper development of the visual system, younger patients often show more success with treatment. Still, there have been many instances where older patients received successful treatment and therefore anyone who suspects they or their child has amblyopia should consult immediately with their optometrist If you are in need of amblyopia consultation in Olathe, KS, contact us to schedule an appointment. Amblyopia doesn’t heal itself so don’t delay in starting to repair your vision!