To achieve optimal vision, the eyes and the brain must work in unison. When this system breaks down, a condition called amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, can occur. With the majority of instances of lazy eye the eyes themselves are usually healthy yet good vision cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription glasses. When untreated amblyopia can cause serious visual disability, even loss of sight in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition is often challenging to discern. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the possibility of complete vision restoration. Those that don’t start to be treated until they are teenagers or adults don’t usually find as successful results as those who start treatment when they are young.
Therefore it is crucial to have your child’s vision checked early on in development. The American Optometric Association suggests that children receive a comprehensive optometric examination by the age of six months and another by three years of age.
What are the Causes of Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Lazy eye may be the result of any condition that affects normal visual development or use of the eyes. The most common cause is strabismus, an imbalance in the location of the eyes. Strabismus can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Sometimes amblyopia is caused when one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other eye. This condition is called anisometropia. Occasionally, amblyopia is caused by other optical conditions such as cataracts or some other anatomical cause.
How is Lazy Eye Treated?
Treatment for lazy eye aims to achieve proper binocular vision. In addition to using prescription eyeglasses or contacts, one of the most common approaches requires strengthening the weaker eye by occluding the good eye. There are a number of options to achieve this and the treatment is prescribed according to the patient’s situation and the decision of the eye doctor.
Frequently doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is used to occlude the good eye. A patch forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes proper sight in the weaker eye and helps the visual processing system to develop properly. However this treatment is dependent upon compliance with wearing the patch, which can be difficult with many children.
An alternative to patching is the use of a drug known as atropine. When placed in the better eye, atropine drops temporarily blur the sight and therefore force the patient to use the other eye.
Alternatives to these treatments include vision therapy to help the eyes to work together as a team and in some cases surgery to straighten out the alignment of the eyes. Special contacts or other sight aides are also sometimes used.
Since lazy eye is caused by a problem with the visual process, younger patients often experience more success with treatment. Nevertheless, there have been many instances in which teenage patients were successfully treated and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist If you are looking for lazy eye consultation in Tupelo, MS, contact us to schedule an appointment. The sooner accurate diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can begin to restore your vision!