For proper sight, it is essential for the eyes to function in cooperation with each other and with the brain. When this process doesn’t function properly, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. With most cases of lazy eye the actual eyes are typically healthy but good vision cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription eyeglasses. If not treated appropriately amblyopia can cause severe visual disability, even loss of sight in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood. Given that it typically starts as an infant developmental problem, the condition can be difficult to discern. Unless it is adequately treated early on, the likelihood of full recovery is diminished. Patients that don’t begin treatment until they are teenagers or adults don’t usually experience as successful outcomes as those who start treatment earlier.
Therefore it is important to have your child’s eyes checked at an early age. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a comprehensive eye exam by the age of half a year and another at three years of age.
What Causes Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Lazy eye may be caused by any condition that affects normal eye and vision development. 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. 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 diseases such as a cataract or some other structural impairment.
Treatment for Amblyopia
Amblyopia is treated by measures to restore proper visual acuity to both eyes. Along with the use of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this entails making the patient use the weaker eye. A few treatment options exist to occlude the stronger eye and the treatment plan is prescribed based on the patient’s circumstances and the decision of the optometrist.
Very often you will see patching, where a patch is worn to occlude the stronger eye. A patch forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes proper sight in the weak eye and assists the visual processing system to develop more completely. However success with patching greatly depends on cooperation of the patient to wear the patch, which can be a factor particularly with children.
Some eye care professionals choose to use a drug known as atropine. When placed in the good eye, atropine drops temporarily impair the sight to stimulate the use of the other eye.
Alternatives to these treatments include vision therapy or orthoptics to assist the eyes to coordinate with each other and sometimes a surgical procedure to realign the eyes. Special contact lenses or other aides to improve vision may also be tried.
Since lazy eye is caused by a problem with the visual process, younger patients often show more success with treatment. Still, there have been many instances in which older patients were successfully treated and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has amblyopia should consult as soon as possible with their eye doctor If you are looking for lazy eye management in Lambertville, NJ, contact us to schedule an appointment. The sooner proper diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can help repair your sight!