Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye is a deficiency in adequate vision development caused by the failure of both eyes to work in unison. With most cases of ambylopia the eyes themselves are typically healthy yet visual acuity cannot be achieved by just glasses. If not treated amblyopia can result in severe visual impairment, even blindness in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in childhood. Because it usually starts as an infant developmental problem, the disorder is often challenging to diagnose. The earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment begins the better the possibility of full recovery. Treatment usually works faster and more effectively for patients who start prior to entering pre-teen years.
This is why it is crucial to have your child’s eyes tested early on in development. The American Optometric Association recommends that children receive a complete optometric exam by half a year and again by three years of age.
Causes of Amblyopia
Lazy eye may be the result of any condition that affects typical eye and vision development. One common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are improperly aligned. Strabismus can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) 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 is the result of a condition called anisometropia. Occasionally, lazy eye is the result of other optical conditions such as cataracts or some other anatomical problem.
Treating Lazy Eye
Treatment for lazy eye is directed at attaining proper binocular vision. In addition to using prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this entails forcing the individual to use the eye with the reduced vision. There are a number of alternatives to achieve this and the treatment is chosen according to the individual situation and the decision of the eye doctor.
Frequently doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is worn to occlude the stronger eye. A patch forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes proper sight in the underdeveloped eye and assists the visual system in the brain develop properly. Nevertheless this treatment greatly depends on cooperation of the patient to use the patch, which can be a problem with many children.
An alternative to patching is the use of atropine. When placed in the better eye, atropine drops obscure the sight to force the use of the weaker eye.
Additional treatment options include vision therapy also known as orthoptics to train the eyes to work together as a team and sometimes surgery to realign the eyes. Special contact lenses or other vision aides are also sometimes used.
Because amblyopia involves a disruption in the vision process, younger patients often show more success with treatment. Still, there have been many instances where teenage patients were successfully treated and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist If you are in need of amblyopia treatment in Philadelphia, PA, be in touch to schedule a visit. The sooner proper diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can begin to repair your sight!