For adequate eyesight, the eyes and the brain must operate in unison. In instances when this does not happen, a condition called amblyopia, or lazy eye, can occur. With the majority of cases of lazy eye the actual eyes are usually in good health but visual acuity cannot be achieved by just lenses. Left not treated appropriately amblyopia can result in severe visual disability, even loss of sight in that eye.
Lazy eye is the most common cause of sight impairment in childhood. Usually beginning as an infant developmental issue, the disorder can be challenging to diagnose. The earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment starts the better the possibility of full recovery. Treatment usually works faster and more effectively for those who start before adolescence.
This is why it is important to have your child’s eyes and vision checked early on in development. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a comprehensive eye exam by half a year and again when the child turns three.
Causes of Lazy Eye
Lazy eye may be caused by a number of conditions that affect typical visual development or functioning of the eyes. The most common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are improperly 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 condition is called anisometropia. On occasion, amblyopia is caused by other optical conditions such as a cataract or some other pathological impairment.
How is Lazy Eye Treated?
Amblyopia is treated by efforts to attain normal vision to both eyes. Along with the use of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this involves making the child use the eye with the reduced vision. A few treatment options exist to do this and the treatment is selected based on the individual situation and the decision of the eye care professional.
Very often you will see a patch used to be worn over the better eye. A patch compels the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes vision in the underdeveloped eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop properly. However this treatment greatly depends on cooperation of the patient to use the patch, which can be a factor especially in the case of children.
An alternative to patching is the use of atropine. When placed in the better eye, atropine drops temporarily blur the sight to force the patient to prefer the other eye.
Occasionally vision can be improved by vision aides alone, such as prescription eyeglasses or contacts that improve vision in each eye, however this is not usually the case. Further, vision therapy to teach the eyes to function in unison or in some cases a surgical procedure might also be suggested.
Because amblyopia involves a disruption in the proper development of the visual system, 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 consult as soon as possible with their eye care professional. If you are looking for lazy eye management in Winston Salem, NC, be in touch to book an appointment. Lazy eye doesn’t get better on its own so don’t delay in starting to restore your vision!