For optimal vision, the eyes and the brain need to work as a team. When this does not happen, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. With most cases of lazy eye the actual eyes are usually in good health however the condition cannot be corrected by just lenses. When untreated amblyopia can cause severe visual impairment, including blindness in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in childhood. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the disorder can be difficult to detect. Unless it is adequately treated early on, the chance of complete vision restoration is limited. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for those who begin before the adolescent years.
Therefore it is important to have your child’s eyes checked early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should have a comprehensive optometric exam by the age of half a year and again when the child turns three.
What are the Causes of Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia occurs when the eyes or visual system do not function in unison. One 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. 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, lazy eye is the result of other eye diseases such as cataracts or another structural problem.
How is Lazy Eye Treated?
Amblyopia is treated by efforts to restore proper vision to both eyes. In addition to wearing prescription eyeglasses or contacts, one of the most common approaches entails strengthening the weaker eye by occluding the good eye. There are a number of options to do this and the treatment is chosen according to the individual situation and the decision of the eye doctor.
Very often doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is used to cover the stronger eye. The patient is then compelled to use the weak eye, which stimulates vision in the weaker eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop properly. However success with patching greatly depends on cooperation of the patient to wear the patch, which can be a factor with many children.
An alternative to patching is the use of atropine. When placed in the better eye, atropine drops obscure the sight and therefore force the patient to use the other eye.
Occasionally patients can be treated by vision devices alone, such as prescription glasses or contacts that restore vision to each eye, however this is not usually the case. Additionally, vision therapy to teach the eyes to function as a team or in some cases a surgical procedure might also be suggested.
Since amblyopia is the result of a problem with the vision process, younger patients often show more success with treatment. Still, there have been many cases where teenage patients completed successful treatment and therefore anyone who suspects they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment as soon as possible with their optometrist If you are in need of amblyopia treatment in Overland Park, KS, contact us to schedule a visit. Lazy eye doesn’t heal itself so don’t wait to start treatment to repair your sight!