Amblyopia is an often misunderstood term. Some people use the term ‘lazy eye’ but that’s not really a good description. This article is designed to help you understand what amblyopia is and isn’t, and the options to treat it.
What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia is the condition where the eye is healthy, but doesn’t see well. This is usually a developmental problem, not a pathology problem. Failure of the eye to develop is from not being used for vision processing which is how the brain uses the information provide by the eye. This ‘disconnect’ can be the result of many things. The lay term “Lazy Eye” probably has its roots in the weaker eye not doing its ‘fair share’ of processing vision. Some are reasons for amblyopia are listed below:
- Strabismus (one eye turns in or out, over rarely up/down) . If strabismus occurs at a very young age, the brain will suppress, or ignore one eye so as to avoid seeing double. As such, the eye fails to develop. In some cases of strabismus, the child will take turns using each eye and as a result, both eyes may develop fully and no amblyopia is present.
- Anisometropis – this is the clinical name used to describe the problem of having very different vision measurements between the eyes. If one eye has a high prescription and the other eye does not, the eye that has the best uncorrected vision will usually develop better than the other.
- Deprivation – this is when one eye is deprived of the ability to see well because something is blocking the vision. Being born with a cataract (cloudy lens) or with a lid that droops over the line of sight may be sources of deprivation amblyopia.
How do you treat Amblyopia?
Optometrists and Ophthalmologists can design a treatment program for your child’s amblyopia. The earlier the child is caught with the condition, the better the odds of strengthening the eye with amblyopia. Some of treatment options are listed below:
- Wearing corrective eye wear. The child needs to have the best possible vision to improve the situation. In some cases, wearing the eye wear corrects strabismus as well.
- Forcing the weaker eye to work. In some cases, the child will need to spend part of the day with the better eye covered. This will force the weaker eye to be used, thus forcing its development.
- Vision therapy. Your child may benefit from a vision therapy regimen designed to help the eyes work together and develop fully.
- Any of these regimens need to begin early. After the child is 6 or 7 years of age, progress becomes less likely.
For more information, visit the American Optometric Association website.