Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye is a deficiency in adequate vision development caused by the failure of both eyes to work together. In the majority of cases of ambylopia the actual eyes are typically in good health yet good vision cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription eyeglasses. If not treated appropriately lazy eye can cause severe visual impairment, even loss of sight in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most common vision disorder in children. Usually beginning as an early childhood developmental issue, the condition can be difficult to diagnose. Early diagnosis and treatment improve the chances of full vision restoration. Patients that don’t begin treatment until adolescence or adulthood don’t typically find as successful results as those who begin treatment when they are young.
This is why it is crucial to have your child’s eyes tested early on in development. The American Optometric Association suggests that children receive a comprehensive eye exam by half a year and again by three years of age.
What are the Causes of Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Lazy eye can be caused by a number of conditions that affect typical development of the visual system or functioning of the eyes. The most common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Such misalignment results in eyes that cross in (estropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Sometimes amblyopia is caused when the eyes have different levels of acuity. This condition is called anisometropia. On occasion, amblyopia is the result of other eye conditions such as cataracts or some other structural problem.
How is Amblyopia Treated?
Amblyopia is treated by efforts to restore optimal vision to both eyes. Along with the use of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this requires strengthening the weaker eye by limiting the use of the better eye. A few treatment options exist to achieve this and the treatment plan is chosen depending on the individual situation and the decision of the eye doctor.
Very often you will see patching, where a patch is worn to cover the better eye. The patient is then forced to use the weak eye, which stimulates proper sight in the weak eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop properly. Nevertheless success using a patch is dependent upon cooperation of the patient to use the patch, which can be a factor particularly in the case of children.
Some eye care professionals choose to use atropine. When a drop of atropine is placed in the better eye, this will obscure the sight to stimulate the preference of the other eye.
Occasionally vision can be improved by vision aides alone, such as prescription glasses or contacts that restore vision to each eye, however this is not typical. Additionally, vision therapy to train the eyes to function together or in some cases a surgical procedure might also be suggested.
Since lazy eye is caused by a problem with the visual process, the younger the age at which treatment begins, the more chance there is of success. 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 eye care professional. If you are in need of lazy eye consultation in North Reading, MA, be in touch to book an appointment. The sooner proper diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can begin to restore your vision!