Amblyopia or lazy eye is the failure for central vision to develop properly caused by the inability of the two eyes to function in unison. With most cases of ambylopia the actual eyes are usually in good health yet the condition is not correctable by just glasses. If not treated amblyopia can result in serious visual impairment, including blindness in the affected eye.
Lazy eye is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in childhood. Since it usually starts as an infant developmental problem, the condition can be difficult to discern. Unless it is successfully treated at an early age, the likelihood of regaining normal eyesight is reduced. Patients that don’t start treatment until adolescence or adulthood don’t usually find as successful results as those who start treatment earlier.
Therefore it is crucial to have your child’s eyes and vision checked early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should have a complete eye exam at the age of half a year and again by age three.
What Causes Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Lazy eye can be the result of a number of conditions that affect normal eye and vision development. The most common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Strabismus can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Amblyopia 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. On occasion, lazy eye is the result of other optical conditions such as a cataract or some other anatomical impairment.
How is Amblyopia Treated?
Treating amblyopia is directed at attaining normal binocular vision. In addition to using prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this entails strengthening the weaker eye by inhibiting the use of the good eye. A few treatment options exist to occlude the good eye and the treatment is chosen according to the patient’s circumstances and the decision of the optometrist.
Very often you will see a patch used to cover the good eye. A patch compels the patient to use the weaker eye, which stimulates proper sight in the weak eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop more completely. Nevertheless success using a patch is dependent upon compliance with wearing the patch, which can be a problem with many children.
Some eye doctors choose to use a drug called atropine. When a drop of atropine is applied to the strong eye, this will impair the sight and therefore force the patient to prefer the weaker eye.
Some vision can be improved by vision devices alone, such as prescription glasses or contacts that restore vision to each eye, however this is not usually the case. Further, vision therapy to teach the eyes to function together or in some cases surgery might also be options.
Because amblyopia involves a disruption in the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age at which treatment begins, the more chance there is of improvement. Nevertheless, there have been many instances in which teenage patients received successful treatment and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has amblyopia should consult immediately with their eye doctor. If you are in need of amblyopia treatment call our optometrist in Plainsboro, NJ, and book a visit. Lazy eye doesn’t get better on its own so don’t delay in starting to restore your sight!