For adequate sight, the eyes and the brain need to function in cooperation. When this system breaks down, a condition called amblyopia, or lazy eye, can occur. In the majority of instances of lazy eye the eyes themselves are usually in good health but visual acuity cannot be achieved by just lenses. If untreated lazy eye can result in severe visual disability, even blindness in that eye.
Lazy eye is the most frequently diagnosed cause of sight impairment in childhood. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the disorder is often challenging to discern. Early diagnosis and treatment improve the chances of full recovery. Treatment usually works faster and more effectively for patients who begin prior to adolescence.
This is why it is crucial to have your child’s eyes tested early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should receive a complete eye examination at the age of half a year and another by three years of age.
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, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. 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 one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other eye. This condition is called anisometropia. Occasionally, lazy eye is caused by other eye conditions such as a cataract or another pathological impairment.
Treatment for Amblyopia
Lazy eye is treated by measures to attain optimal visual acuity to both eyes. Along with the use of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, one of the most common approaches entails making the child use the eye with the reduced vision. A few treatment options exist to do this and the treatment is chosen according to the patient’s circumstances and a consultation with an eye care professional.
Frequently you will see patching, where a patch is worn to cover the stronger eye. The patient is then compelled to use the weak eye, which stimulates proper sight in the weaker eye and assists 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.
Another option is the use of atropine. When applied to the better eye, atropine drops impair the sight to force the patient to use the other eye.
Other treatment options include vision therapy to help the eyes to coordinate with each other and sometimes a surgical procedure to realign the eyes. Specialized contacts or other vision aides may also be employed.
Because lazy eye involves a disruption in the vision process, the younger the age at which treatment starts, the more chance there is of success. Still, there have been many cases where teenage patients were successfully treated and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has lazy eye should consult as soon as possible with their optometrist If you are in need of amblyopia management in North Vancouver, BC, contact us to schedule an appointment. The sooner accurate diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can help restore your eyesight!