Being Proactive About Lazy Eye In Children – Understanding Amblyopia
Amblyopia may sound like a scary thing, but it really is nothing to be feared. Many times, parents get scared by a condition with their child’s vision or just plain don’t know what certain conditions are. However, if taken care of, your child can go on to have very successful vision and our office sees many children with amblyopia
What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”, is a condition where there is a problem in the way the brain interprets visual images from one or both eyes. Vital connections between a child’s eyes and brain are formed early in life. When something blocks or blurs vision in one or both eyes, the brain can then start to ignore or suppress what it’s seeing and the eye becomes weaker. Children can have difficulty reading a blackboard from a distance, or catching a ball. Not all children with amblyopia may have crossed or wandering eyes, in fact many look properly aligned.
How is it treated?
Amblyopia can be treated in a couple of ways to help strengthen the weak eye. Glasses are one way amblyopia can be treated. They are often prescribed when amblyopia is caused by serious refractive errors because they help send clear, focused images to the brain. This allows the brain and eyes to start working together. Another technique that may be prescribed is an eye patch. Patches are worn for 2-6 hours a day while the child is awake for several months or years depending on the severity of the case. This technique forces the weaker eye to step up its game since it is being forced to be the dominant source of vision. Yet another option is surgery, which can be effective if the strabismus is the cause of a child’s amblyopia, and where the previous options have not improved the condition. Surgery may also be an option is the condition is caused by a droopy eyelid or a cataract.
Children reach visual maturity at around age 8. Therefore, amblyopia is a condition that should be treated as early as possible to ensure proper muscle function develops. That is why it is so important to get your child – even a toddler in for an eye exam yearly. (Our office even offers InfantSee exams for babies.) Pay attention to your child’s depth perception and reading abilities. Take a moment every once in a while to look at these things. If your child is in school, talk with your teachers to see if they notice anything of concern. If you experience any concern or have questions, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to talk to one of our optometrists!