To achieve optimal eyesight, the eyes and the brain must work in unison. When this does not happen, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. In the majority of occurrences of lazy eye the eyes themselves are typically in good health yet visual acuity cannot be achieved by just lenses. If untreated amblyopia can result in severe visual disability, even blindness in that eye.
Lazy eye is the most common vision disorder in children. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition can be challenging to detect. The earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment begins the greater the likelihood of full vision restoration. Treatment usually works faster and more effectively for those who start prior to adolescence.
Therefore it is crucial to have your child’s vision checked early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should receive a complete optometric examination at half a year and another when the child turns three.
What are the Causes of Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia may be the result of any condition that affects typical development of the visual system or use of the eyes. One common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Such misalignment can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Lazy eye can also be caused by a condition where one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other eye. This is the result of a condition called anisometropia. Occasionally, amblyopia is caused by other eye conditions such as cataracts or another pathological cause.
How is Lazy Eye Treated?
Treatment for lazy eye aims to achieve normal binocular vision. In addition to using prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this entails strengthening the weaker eye by inhibiting the use of the good eye. There are a few ways to occlude the stronger eye and the treatment plan is selected according to the individual situation and a consultation with an eye care professional.
Frequently you will see patching, where a patch is used to occlude the better eye. The patient is then compelled to use the weak eye, which promotes proper sight in the weak eye and assists the visual processing system to develop properly. However success with patching greatly depends on compliance with wearing the patch, which can be difficult especially with children.
Another option is the use of atropine. When placed in the stronger eye, atropine drops impair the vision to force the preference of the weaker eye.
Some patients can be treated by vision devices alone, such as prescription eyeglasses or contacts that restore vision to each eye, however this is not usually the case. Additionally, vision therapy to train the eyes to function as a team or in some cases a surgical procedure might also be options.
Since amblyopia involves a disruption in the vision process, younger patients often experience more success with treatment. Nevertheless, there are many factors that are involved and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has lazy eye should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist. If you are looking for lazy eye consultation call our Calgary optometrist to book a visit. Amblyopia won’t get better on its own so don’t wait to start treatment to restore your sight!