For adequate sight, the eyes need to operate in cooperation with each other and with the brain. In instances when this does not happen, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. In the majority of cases of lazy eye the eyes themselves are usually healthy however visual acuity cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription eyeglasses. When untreated lazy eye can cause severe visual disability, even blindness in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed cause of visual impairment in children. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition can be difficult to discern. Unless it is successfully treated at an early age, the likelihood of achieving normal vision is reduced. Patients that don’t start treatment until adolescence or adulthood frequently find that it can take much longer and is less effective.
Therefore it is important to have your child’s vision tested at a young age. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should receive a comprehensive optometric examination at half a year and another when the child turns three.
What are the Causes of Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia occurs when the eyes or visual system do not function in unison. One common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Strabismus 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, amblyopia is caused by other optical diseases such as a cataract or another pathological problem.
Treatment for Amblyopia
Treatment for lazy eye aims to achieve normal binocular vision. Along with the use of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this involves making the patient use the eye with the reduced vision. A few treatment options exist to occlude the better eye and the treatment is selected based on the individual situation anda consultation with an optometrist.
Frequently you will see a patch used to be worn over the good eye. The patient is then forced to use the weak eye, which stimulates proper sight in the underdeveloped eye and helps the visual processing system to develop properly. Nevertheless this treatment is dependent upon compliance with wearing the patch, which can be difficult especially in the case of children.
An alternative to patching is the use of a drug known as atropine. When a drop of atropine is placed in the strong eye, this will blur the vision and therefore force the preference of 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 visual acuity may also be tried.
Since lazy eye involves a problem with the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age of treatment, the more chance there is of improvement. Nevertheless, there are many factors that are involved and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has lazy eye should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist If you are in need of lazy eye management in Frederick, MD, contact us to schedule an appointment. Amblyopia doesn’t heal itself so don’t delay in starting to restore your eyesight!