To achieve optimal vision, the eyes and the brain must function in unison. In instances when this process doesn’t function properly, a condition called amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, can result. With the majority of occurrences of lazy eye the eyes themselves are usually in good health however good vision cannot be achieved by just lenses. Left not treated lazy eye can result in severe visual disability, including blindness in the affected eye.
Lazy eye is the most common vision disorder in children. Usually beginning as an infant developmental problem, the disorder can be difficult to discern. The earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment begins the greater the chances of complete recovery. Treatment usually works faster and more effectively for patients who begin before entering pre-teen years.
Therefore it is important to have your child’s eyes checked early on in development. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a complete optometric examination at half a year and again when the child turns three.
What are the Causes of Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia may be caused by a number of conditions that affect typical eye and vision development. The most common cause is strabismus, an imbalance in the positioning of the eyes. Such misalignment 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 the eyes have different levels of acuity. This condition is called anisometropia. Occasionally, lazy eye is the result of other eye diseases such as a cataract or some other structural cause.
Treating Lazy Eye
Treating amblyopia is directed at attaining proper binocular vision. Along with the use of prescription lenses, the most common way to do this requires strengthening the weaker eye by prohibiting the use of the good eye. A few treatment options exist to achieve this and the treatment is selected based on the individual circumstances and the decision of the optometrist.
Frequently doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is used to occlude the stronger eye. The patient is then forced to use the weak eye, which promotes vision in the weak eye and helps the visual processing system to develop more completely. However this treatment is dependent upon cooperation with wearing the patch, which can be a problem particularly with children.
Some eye doctors opt to use atropine. When placed in the better eye, atropine drops obscure the vision and therefore force the patient to use the weaker eye.
Other treatment options include vision therapy to help the eyes to coordinate with each other and in some cases a surgical procedure to straighten out the alignment of the eyes. Specialized contacts or other aides to improve vision are also sometimes used.
Since lazy eye is caused by a disruption in the visual process, the younger the age of treatment, the higher the chance of success. Nevertheless, there have been many cases where older patients received successful treatment and therefore anyone who suspects they or their child has lazy eye should consult as soon as possible with their eye doctor If you are looking for amblyopia management by an optometrist in Duluth, MN, be in touch to schedule an appointment. Amblyopia doesn’t heal itself so don’t delay in starting to restore your vision!