To achieve adequate vision, the eyes and the brain need to function in unison. When this system breaks down, a condition called amblyopia, or lazy eye, can occur. In most occurrences of lazy eye the eyes themselves are usually in good health yet visual acuity cannot be achieved by just lenses. If not treated amblyopia can cause severe visual disability, even loss of sight in one eye.
Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed cause of sight impairment in children. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the disorder is often difficult to detect. Unless it is successfully treated early on, the chance of regaining normal eyesight is limited. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for those who start before entering adolescent years.
This is why it is important to have your child’s vision tested early on in development. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a complete optometric examination at the age of half a year and again at age three.
Causes of Amblyopia
Lazy eye can be caused by any condition that affects typical eye and vision development. The most common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Strabismus results in eyes that cross in (estropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Amblyopia can also be caused by a condition where the eyes have different levels of acuity. This is the result of a condition called anisometropia. On occasion, lazy eye is the result of other optical conditions such as a cataract or some other pathological cause.
How is Lazy Eye Treated?
Lazy eye is treated by efforts to achieve normal visual acuity to both eyes. In addition to using prescription lenses, the most common way to do this requires making the child use the eye with the reduced vision. There are a few ways to occlude the stronger eye and the treatment plan is selected based on the patient’s situation and the decision of the eye doctor.
Very often you will see a patch used to cover the good eye. The patient is then forced to use the weak eye, which stimulates vision in the weaker eye and assists the visual processing system to develop properly. However this treatment largely depends on compliance of the patient to use the patch, which can be a problem with many children.
Another option is the use of a drug known as atropine. When placed in the good eye, atropine drops temporarily blur the vision to stimulate the patient to use the other eye.
Other treatment options include vision therapy or orthoptics to help the eyes to work together as a team and sometimes a surgical procedure to realign the eyes. Specialized contacts or other vision aides may also be used.
Because lazy eye is the result of a problem with the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age at which treatment begins, the higher the chance of success. Nevertheless, there have been many cases where older patients were successfully treated and therefore anyone who suspects they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist If you are in need of lazy eye treatment in Saginaw, MI, be in touch to book a visit. The sooner accurate diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can begin to restore your sight!