Amblyopia. When most people read that, they probably won’t know what this long word means, even though it affects thousands of people’s vision, especially children. In simpler terms, amblyopia is sometimes referred to as “lazy eye”. Lazy eye is fairly common among children, affecting 2-3% of young children. Unless amblyopia is properly treated, the condition will persist throughout a person’s entire life. If you want to learn about the causes of lazy eye and it’s treatment, keep on reading.
What is Lazy Eye?
Essentially, amblyopia occurs when the visual system of the brain does not receive a sharp image from an eye (sometimes both) at an early age. Even if the underlying cause of the fuzzy image is corrected at an older age, if the brain only “saw” a blurred version at a young age it can remain at that level. Vision can be moderately to extremely reduced if the eyes are not communicating well with the brain. If you have any concerns that your child may have lazy eye, get them an eye exam right away.
What Causes Lazy Eye?
The most common cause of lazy eye is the inability of one eye to focus as well as the other (i.e. a glasses issue). This imbalance in focus is often caused by one eye being more nearsighted or farsighted or having more astigmatism. Again, one eye has an inability to focus light properly onto the retina. It is also common to have an eye misalignment (strabismus) along with a lazy eye. Some of the symptoms of a lazy eye include the appearance of a wandering eye, eyes that appear not to work together properly, and poor depth perception. But most of the time there are no symptoms. A child can one eye that sees well and one that sees quite poorly and they often do not notice it. This is why vision screenings done in preschool and at the pediatrician’s are so important.
It’s important to treat amblyopia during childhood. It is much easier for a child’s brain to learn something new than it is or an adult. Essentially, what you need to do to treat the lazy eye is make the weaker side of the visual system work harder until it eventually seese as well as the better eye. One way to accomplish this is through patching. Putting an eyepatch over the stronger eye for a few hours a day will force the weak eye to communicate better with the brain. In most cases, the patient will wear the patch anywhere from 2-6 hours a day for a few weeks or months. Another treatment option is placing drops of a drug called atropine in the strong eye, temporarily blurring the vision. This is essentially the same process as patching.
Amblyopia cannot be treated in adults, once the visual pathways of the brain have been set. Some studies show that a teenager who was not treated as child could still get some improvement with amblyopia therapy, but the name of the game is “the sooner the better”. The younger the patient, the more likely the person is to recover fully from amblyopia.
Concerned about Lazy Eye? Call Pediatric Eye Care of Maryland Today!
Pediatric Eye Care of Maryland takes you and your child’s eye health very seriously. With a full staff of highly skilled Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Orthoptists we’ve got ocular health covered. If you feel any concern about your vision, have questions concerning eye health, or need information on the services we offer contact us today. With 4 convenient locations in Maryland, we are your number one choice for eye treatment.