In order to have optimal sight, the eyes must work in conjunction with each other and with the brain. In instances when this system breaks down, a condition called amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, can result. In the majority of instances of ambylopia the actual eyes are usually in good health however visual acuity cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription eyeglasses. When not treated lazy eye can cause severe visual impairment, even blindness in the affected eye.
Lazy eye is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition can be difficult to diagnose. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chances of complete vision restoration. Patients that don’t start to be treated until they are teenagers or adults don’t typically find as successful outcomes as those who start treatment when they are young.
This is why it is important to have your child’s vision tested early on in development. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a complete eye examination at the age of six months and again 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. 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. Amblyopia can also be caused by a condition where one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other eye. This condition is called anisometropia. On occasion, lazy eye is the result of other eye conditions such as cataracts or some other pathological cause.
Amblyopia is treated by efforts to attain optimal vision to both eyes. In addition to using prescription lenses, the most common way to do this entails strengthening the weaker eye by occluding the stronger. A few treatment options exist to do this and the treatment plan is prescribed according to the individual situation and the decision of the eye care professional.
Very often doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is worn to occlude the stronger eye. The patient is then compelled to use the weak eye, which stimulates proper sight in the weak eye and helps the visual processing system to develop properly. However this treatment largely depends on cooperation with wearing the patch, which can be a factor with many children.
An alternative to patching is the use of atropine. When applied to the good eye, atropine drops temporarily obscure the vision and therefore force the use of the weaker eye.
Additional treatment options include vision therapy to help the eyes to coordinate with each other and in some cases surgery to straighten out the alignment of the eyes. Specialized contacts or other aides to improve vision may also be tried.
Since lazy eye is caused by a problem with the vision process, the younger the age at which treatment begins, the more chance there is of success. However, there are many factors that are involved and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has amblyopia should consult immediately with their optometrist If you are in need of lazy eye treatment in Manhattan, NY, be in touch to book an appointment. Lazy eye won’t heal itself so don’t wait to start treatment to restore your sight!