Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye is a lack of proper vision development caused by the failure of both eyes to work in unison. In most cases of ambylopia the actual eyes are typically in good health however the condition cannot be corrected by just the use of prescription glasses. If untreated amblyopia can cause severe visual impairment, even blindness in the affected eye.
Lazy eye is the most frequently diagnosed vision disorder in childhood. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition is often challenging to diagnose. Unless it is successfully treated at an early age, the likelihood of obtaining normal vision is diminished. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for patients who begin prior to the adolescent years.
Therefore it is important to have your child’s eyes tested at an early age. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should receive a comprehensive eye examination at the age of six months and another when the child turns three. There is also a wonderful national program called “InfantSee” where children up to one year of age can receive a FREE eye exam. The number one goal of the program is to identify vision problems, such as a lazy eye, as early as possible. Dr. Cohen has been a provider for this program since its inception. Under the “links” tab on our website, you can be directed to the national “InfantSee” website for more information.
Causes of Amblyopia
Lazy eye can be caused by a number of conditions that affect normal vision development or functioning of the eyes. 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. 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, amblyopia is caused by other eye conditions such as cataracts or another structural problem.
How is Amblyopia Treated?
Treatment for amblyopia aims to achieve normal binocular vision. In addition to using prescription lenses, the most common way to do this requires forcing the individual to use the eye with the reduced vision. There are a few alternatives to achieve this and the treatment plan is prescribed depending on the patient’s circumstances and the decision of the optometrist.
Very often you will see patching, where a patch is worn to occlude the better eye. This compels the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes proper sight in the underdeveloped eye and helps the visual system in the brain develop properly. However success with patching greatly depends on cooperation of the patient to use the patch, which can be a factor especially in the case of children.
Some eye doctors choose to use a drug called atropine. When applied to the stronger eye, atropine drops impair the sight and therefore force the patient to prefer the other eye.
Other treatment options include vision therapy to help the eyes to coordinate with each other and sometimes surgery to realign the eyes. Special contact lenses or other aides to achieve better vision are also sometimes tried.
Since lazy eye involves a problem with the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age at which treatment starts, the higher the chance of improvement. Nevertheless, there have been many cases in which teenage patients received successful treatment and therefore anyone who suspects they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment immediately with their eye doctor If you are in need of lazy eye consultation in Scottsdale, AZ, or in the greater Phoenix area, contact us to book an appointment. The sooner accurate diagnosis and treatment are started, the sooner we can help repair your eyesight!