Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is the failure for central vision to develop appropriately due to the failure of the two eyes to function together. With most instances of ambylopia the actual eyes are usually in good health but visual acuity cannot be achieved by just glasses. When left untreated, lazy eye can result in severe visual disability, even loss of sight in the affected eye.
Lazy eye is the most common cause of visual impairment in children. Given that it typically starts as an infant developmental problem, the disorder is often challenging to discern. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chances of full vision restoration. Those that don’t begin to be treated until adolescence or adulthood often find that it can take far longer and is less effective.
This is why it is crucial to have your child’s vision tested at a young age. The American Optometric Association suggests that children have a comprehensive optometric examination by the age of half a year and again at age three.
Causes of Lazy Eye
Amblyopia can be the result of a number of conditions that affect typical development of the visual system or use of the eyes. One common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Strabismus results in eyes that cross in (estropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Sometimes amblyopia is caused when one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other eye. This condition is called anisometropia. Occasionally, lazy eye is the result of other optical diseases such as cataracts or another pathological problem.
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 involves strengthening the weaker eye by occluding the good eye. A few treatment options exist to occlude the better eye and the treatment plan is selected depending on the individual circumstances and the decision of the eye doctor.
Very often you will see a patch used to be worn over the good eye. This compels the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes vision in the weaker eye and assists the visual system in the brain develop more completely. Nevertheless success with patching greatly depends on compliance with wearing the patch, which can be a problem with many children.
Some eye doctors choose to use a drug known as atropine. When placed in the stronger eye, atropine drops impair the vision to force the use of the other eye.
Alternatives to these treatments include vision therapy to assist the eyes to work together as a team and sometimes a surgical procedure to realign the eyes. Specialized contact lenses or other aides to improve vision may also be employed.
Since amblyopia is caused by a disruption in the visual process, younger patients often experience more success with treatment. However, there have been many cases in which 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 lazy eye management in Squamish or Vancouver, BC, contact us to book a visit. The sooner proper diagnosis and treatment are started, the sooner we can help repair your sight!