Amblyopia, commonly called lazy eye is the failure for central vision to develop properly due to the inability of both eyes to function in unison. In most instances of ambylopia the actual eyes are typically healthy but the condition is not correctable by just glasses. When untreated amblyopia can result in severe visual disability, even blindness in that eye.
Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood. Usually beginning as an infant developmental problem, the condition is often difficult to discern. The sooner a diagnosis is made and treatment begins the better the likelihood of complete vision restoration. Those that don’t start to be treated until they are teenagers or adults don’t typically experience as successful results as patients who begin treatment early on.
Therefore it is crucial to have your child’s vision checked early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should receive a complete eye exam by six months and again at age three.
What Causes Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?
Amblyopia can be the result of any condition that affects normal development of the visual system or use of the eyes. One 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 is the result of a condition called anisometropia. On occasion, lazy eye is caused by other optical diseases such as a cataract or another structural impairment.
Amblyopia is treated by measures to restore proper vision to both eyes. Along with the use of prescription lenses, one of the most common approaches entails strengthening the weaker eye by prohibiting the use of the better eye. A few treatment options exist to occlude the good eye and the treatment plan is chosen depending on the individual situation and the decision of the eye care professional.
Frequently doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is worn to occlude the good eye. The patient is then compelled to use the weak eye, which stimulates proper sight in the underdeveloped eye and assists the visual processing system to develop more completely. Nevertheless this treatment is dependent upon compliance of the patient to use the patch, which can be difficult with many children.
An alternative to patching is the use of a drug known as atropine. When a drop of atropine is placed in the good eye, this will temporarily obscure the vision and therefore stimulate the use of the weaker eye.
Some vision can be improved by vision aides alone, such as prescription eyeglasses or contacts that improve vision in each eye, however this is not typical. Additionally, vision therapy to train the eyes to function as a team or in some cases a surgical procedure might also be suggested.
Because amblyopia involves a problem with the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age of treatment, the higher the chance of success. Still, there have been many cases where teenage patients were successfully treated and therefore anyone who suspects they or their child has amblyopia should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist If you are in need of amblyopia management in Alpharetta, GA, be in touch to schedule an appointment. The sooner accurate diagnosis and treatment are underway, the sooner we can begin to restore your eyesight!