Amblyopia or lazy eye is a deficiency in proper vision development caused by the failure of both eyes to function in unison. With the majority of cases of lazy eye the actual eyes are typically healthy yet the condition is not correctable by just the use of prescription eyeglasses. When untreated amblyopia can cause serious visual impairment, even blindness in the affected eye.
Lazy eye is the most common vision disorder in childhood. Given that it typically starts in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition is often difficult to discern. Unless it is successfully treated at an early age, the chance of full recovery is diminished. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for patients who start prior to adolescence.
This is why it is crucial to have your child’s vision checked early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should have a complete optometric exam by half a year and another when the child turns three.
Causes of Lazy Eye
Amblyopia may be caused by a number of conditions that affect typical eye and vision development. The most common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Such misalignment results in eyes that cross in (estropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Sometimes amblyopia is caused when one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other eye. This condition is called anisometropia. On occasion, amblyopia is the result of other eye conditions such as a cataract or another pathological cause.
How is Amblyopia Treated?
Treating lazy eye aims to achieve normal binocular vision. Along with the use of prescription lenses, the most common way to do this involves making the child use the eye with the reduced vision. A few treatment options exist to achieve this and the treatment is selected according to the individual situation and a consultation with an optometrist.
Very often doctors will prescribe a patch used to be worn over the strong eye. A patch forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which stimulates vision in the underdeveloped eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop properly. However success using a patch is dependent upon compliance with wearing the patch, which can be difficult with many children.
Another option is the use of a drug known as atropine. When a drop of atropine is placed in the good eye, this will temporarily impair the sight to stimulate the use of the weaker eye.
Some patients can be treated by vision aides alone, such as prescription eyeglasses or contacts that improve vision in each eye, however this is rare. Further, vision therapy to train the eyes to work together or in some cases surgery 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. However, there are many factors that are involved 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 in need of amblyopia consultation in Mississauga, ON, contact Sheridan Optometric Centre to schedule an appointment. Lazy eye doesn’t heal itself so don’t delay in starting to restore your sight!