For optimal vision, the eyes need to work in conjunction with each other and with the brain. When this system breaks down, a condition called amblyopia, or lazy eye, can result. With most instances of lazy eye the eyes themselves are usually healthy however the condition is not correctable by just the use of prescription lenses. If untreated lazy eye can cause serious visual impairment, including blindness in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in childhood. Usually beginning as an infant developmental issue, the disorder can be difficult to detect. Early diagnosis and treatment improve the chances of complete vision restoration. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for patients who start before adolescence.
This is why it is important to have your child’s eyes tested early on in development. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a comprehensive eye examination at the age of half a year and again by age three.
Causes of Amblyopia
Lazy eye occurs when the eyes or visual system do not function in unison. One common cause is strabismus, an imbalance in the positioning of the eyes. Strabismus can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) 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 is the result of a condition called anisometropia. On occasion, lazy eye is caused by other eye conditions such as a cataract or some other structural cause.
Treatment for Amblyopia
Treatment for amblyopia is directed at attaining proper binocular vision. Along with the use of prescription lenses, one of the most common approaches entails strengthening the weaker eye by inhibiting the use of the stronger. There are a few ways to occlude the better eye and the treatment is selected according to the individual situation and the decision of the optometrist.
Frequently doctors will prescribe a patch used to be worn over the good eye. This forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which stimulates vision in the weak eye and helps the visual processing system to develop more completely. However this treatment greatly depends on compliance of the patient to use the patch, which can be difficult with many children.
Another option is the use of atropine. When a drop of atropine is applied to the better eye, this will temporarily blur the sight to force the use of the weaker eye.
Additional treatment options include vision therapy to help the eyes to coordinate with each other and sometimes surgery to realign the eyes. Specialized contact lenses or other vision aides may also be employed.
Because lazy eye involves a problem with the visual process, younger patients often experience more success with treatment. Nevertheless, there are many factors that are involved and therefore anyone who suspects they or their child has lazy eye should schedule an appointment as soon as possible with their eye care professional. If you are in need of lazy eye management in Phoenix, AZ, contact us to schedule an appointment. The sooner accurate diagnosis and treatment are started, the sooner we can begin to restore your sight!