For optimal vision, the eyes and the brain must work together. When this system breaks down, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. In the majority of occurrences of ambylopia the eyes themselves are usually healthy however visual acuity cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription eyeglasses. If not treated appropriately amblyopia can result in serious visual disability, including blindness in one eye.
Lazy eye is the most common cause of visual impairment in children. Because it usually starts in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition is often challenging to discern. Early diagnosis and treatment improve the likelihood of full recovery. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for those who begin before adolescence.
This is why it is important to have your child’s eyes tested early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should have a comprehensive optometric examination by the age of half a year and again by age three.
What Causes Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia may be the result of any condition that affects typical eye and vision development. The most common cause is strabismus, an imbalance in the location of the eyes. Such misalignment results in eyes that cross in (estropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Amblyopia can also be caused by a condition where the eyes have different levels of acuity. This condition is called anisometropia. Occasionally, lazy eye is caused by other optical conditions such as a cataract or another anatomical problem.
How is Lazy Eye Treated?
Treating amblyopia aims to achieve proper binocular vision. In addition to using prescription lenses, one of the most common approaches entails making the child use the weaker eye. A few treatment options exist to achieve this and the treatment is prescribed depending on the patient’s situation and a consultation with an optometrist.
Frequently doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is used to cover the good eye. The patient is then forced to use the weak eye, which stimulates proper sight in the weak eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop properly. However success using a patch greatly depends on cooperation of the patient to wear the patch, which can be difficult especially in the case of children.
Another option is the use of atropine. When placed in the better eye, atropine drops obscure the vision and therefore force the patient to use the other eye.
Occasionally vision can be improved by vision aides alone, such as prescription glasses or contact lenses that improve vision in each eye, however this is rare. Additionally, vision therapy to train the eyes to operate as a team or in some cases a surgical procedure might also be options.
Since amblyopia is the result of a problem with the visual process, younger patients often show more success with treatment. However, there are many factors that are involved and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has lazy eye should consult as soon as possible with their optometrist If you are looking for amblyopia treatment in call our optometrist in Lafayette, LA, to schedule a visit. The sooner accurate diagnosis and treatment are started, the sooner we can begin to restore your sight!