In order to have adequate vision, it is necessary for the eyes to work in unison with each other and with the brain. When this process doesn’t function properly, a condition called amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, can result. With the majority of cases of lazy eye the eyes themselves are typically in good health however visual acuity cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription glasses. Left untreated lazy eye can result in severe visual disability, including blindness in one eye.
Lazy eye is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in children. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition is often difficult to diagnose. Unless it is adequately treated early on, the likelihood of obtaining normal eyesight is limited. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for patients who start before the adolescent years.
This is why it is crucial to have your child’s vision checked early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should have a comprehensive eye examination at six months and another at age three.
What Causes Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia occurs when the eyes or visual system do not function in unison. One 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. Occasionally, lazy eye is the result of other eye conditions such as a cataract or another pathological cause.
How is Amblyopia Treated?
Treatment for lazy eye aims to achieve proper binocular vision. In addition to using prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this entails strengthening the weaker eye by occluding the good eye. A few treatment options exist to achieve this and the treatment plan is prescribed according to the patient’s circumstances and a consultation with an optometrist.
Very often doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is worn to cover the better eye. This forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes proper sight in the underdeveloped eye and assists the visual system in the brain develop properly. However this treatment greatly depends on compliance of the patient to use the patch, which can be a factor particularly in the case of children.
An alternative to patching is the use of a drug called atropine. When a drop of atropine is applied to the better eye, this will obscure the vision to stimulate the use of the other eye.
Other treatment options include vision therapy also known as orthoptics to help the eyes to coordinate with each other and in some cases a surgical procedure to straighten out the alignment of the eyes. Specialized contact lenses or other sight aides are also sometimes tried.
Because lazy eye is caused by 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 suspects they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist If you are looking for lazy eye consultation by an optometrist in Richmond, KY, be in touch to schedule an appointment. Amblyopia doesn’t get better on its own so don’t delay in starting to repair your sight!