In order to have optimal vision, the eyes must operate in unison with each other and with the brain. When this process doesn’t function properly, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. In the majority of instances of ambylopia the actual eyes are usually in good health but visual acuity cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription glasses. Left not treated appropriately lazy eye can cause serious visual impairment, including loss of sight in one eye.
Lazy eye is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in children. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition can be challenging to discern. Early diagnosis and treatment improve the possibility of full recovery. Patients that don’t start treatment until they are teenagers or adults frequently experience that it can take much longer and is less effective.
Therefore it is important to have your child’s vision tested at a young age. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a comprehensive eye exam by six months and again when the child turns three.
What Causes Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia occurs when the eyes or visual system do not function in unison. 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. Lazy eye 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 eye conditions such as a cataract or some other pathological problem.
How is Amblyopia Treated?
Treating lazy eye is directed at attaining normal binocular vision. Along with the use of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this involves strengthening the weaker eye by occluding the stronger. There are a number of alternatives to achieve this and the treatment plan is selected according to the individual circumstances and a consultation with an optometrist.
Frequently doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is worn to occlude the stronger eye. A patch forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes vision in the weaker eye and assists the visual processing system to develop properly. Nevertheless success with patching largely depends on cooperation of the patient to wear the patch, which can be difficult particularly in the case of children.
Some eye care professionals choose to use atropine. When placed in the stronger eye, atropine drops temporarily impair the vision and therefore force the use of the other eye.
Occasionally vision can be improved by vision devices alone, such as prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses that restore vision to each eye, however this is not usually the case. Further, vision therapy to teach the eyes to function as a team or in some cases a surgical procedure might also be suggested.
Because amblyopia is the result of a disruption in the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age of treatment, the higher the chance of success. Nevertheless, there have been many cases in which teenage patients were successfully treated and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment as soon as possible with their eye doctor. If you are looking for amblyopia management in San Diego, CA, contact us to book an appointment. Lazy eye won’t heal itself so don’t wait to start treatment to restore your sight!