To achieve proper vision, it is necessary for the eyes to work in unison with each other and with the brain. When this system breaks down, a condition called amblyopia, or lazy eye, can occur. With most occurrences of lazy eye the eyes themselves are typically healthy yet the condition cannot be corrected by just eyeglasses. Left untreated lazy eye can result in severe visual impairment, even blindness in that eye.
Lazy eye is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in childhood. Given that it usually starts as an early childhood developmental issue, the disorder is often difficult to diagnose. Unless it is adequately treated at an early age, the likelihood of regaining normal eyesight is reduced. Patients that don’t begin to be treated until they are teenagers or adults don’t typically experience as successful results as those who begin treatment earlier.
Therefore it is crucial to have your child’s vision tested early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should have a comprehensive eye examination by the age of half a year and another when the child turns three.
What Causes Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Lazy eye occurs when the eyes or visual system do not function in unison. One common cause is strabismus, an imbalance in the positioning of the eyes. Strabismus 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 is the result of a condition called anisometropia. On occasion, amblyopia is caused by other eye diseases such as cataracts or another structural impairment.
Treatment for Lazy Eye
Treating lazy eye is directed at attaining proper binocular vision. In addition to using prescription eyeglasses or contacts, one of the most common approaches entails forcing the patient to use the weaker eye. A few treatment options exist to occlude the good eye and the treatment is chosen based on the patient’s situation and the decision of the eye doctor.
Very often doctors will prescribe a patch used to occlude the good eye. The patient is then forced to use the weak eye, which stimulates vision in the underdeveloped eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop more completely. However success using a patch largely depends on cooperation of the patient to wear the patch, which can be a problem with many children.
Some optometrists choose to use a drug called atropine. When applied to the good eye, atropine drops blur the sight and therefore force the patient to prefer the weaker eye.
Occasionally patients can be treated by vision aides alone, such as prescription glasses or contact lenses that improve vision in each eye, yet 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 options.
Because lazy eye involves a disruption in the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age of treatment, the more chance there is of success. Nevertheless, there have been many cases in which teenage patients completed successful treatment and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has lazy eye should schedule an appointment as soon as possible with their eye doctor If you are looking for lazy eye consultation in Raleigh, NC, contact us to book an appointment. The sooner proper diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can help repair your vision!