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To achieve optimal sight, the eyes and the brain must operate in cooperation. In instances when this process doesn’t function properly, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. With the majority of cases of ambylopia the eyes themselves are usually in good health however the condition is not correctable by just the use of prescription lenses. When not treated appropriately lazy eye can result in serious visual disability, even blindness in the affected eye.
Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed cause of visual impairment in children. Usually beginning as an early childhood developmental problem, the condition is often difficult to diagnose. Unless it is adequately treated early on, the chance of complete vision restoration is reduced. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for patients who start before adolescence.
Therefore it is crucial to have your child’s vision tested at an early age. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should receive a comprehensive optometric exam by half a year and another when the child turns three.
What Causes 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 improperly aligned. Strabismus results in eyes that cross in (estropia) 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. Occasionally, amblyopia is caused by other optical conditions such as a cataract or some other structural cause.
How is Lazy Eye Treated?
Treating lazy eye is directed at attaining normal binocular vision. In addition to using prescription eyeglasses or contacts, one of the most common approaches involves strengthening the weaker eye by prohibiting the use of the good eye. A few treatment options exist to achieve this and the treatment is chosen based on the patient’s situation and a consultation with an eye doctor.
Very often you will see a patch used to occlude the good eye. A patch compels the patient to use the weaker eye, which promotes proper sight in the underdeveloped eye and helps the visual processing system to develop more completely. However this treatment largely depends on cooperation of the patient to wear the patch, which can be a problem especially with children.
Some eye doctors opt to use atropine. When a drop of atropine is placed in the strong eye, this will obscure the vision and therefore force the patient to prefer the other eye.
Alternatives to these treatments include vision therapy also known as orthoptics to assist the eyes to work together as a team and sometimes a surgical procedure to realign the eyes. Special contact lenses or other sight aides are also sometimes employed.
Since amblyopia is the result of a problem with the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age of treatment, the higher the chance of improvement. Nevertheless, there have been many instances in which older patients received successful treatment and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has lazy eye should consult as soon as possible with their eye care professional. If you are looking for amblyopia consultation contact our optometrist in Plymouth, MI to schedule a visit. The sooner proper diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can help restore your sight!