Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is a disorder that leads to dim or impaired vision. It is often confused with strabismus, or “crossed eye.” Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not line up properly. This leads to a “crossed” or “wall eyed” appearance in which the eyes do not look in the same direction.
With amblyopia, there is no defect or abnormality with the eye itself. Instead, the reduction in vision happens because the neural connection between the eye and brain is not stimulated sufficiently to properly process the images that the eye is seeing. This causes a person’s vision to develop improperly, leading to poor eyesight. Though amblyopia typically presents in one eye, both eyes can become affected.
This condition is usually found in young children when they begin to display signs and symptoms of impaired eyesight. For instance, a child may be clumsy, have difficulty catching a ball, complain of difficulty seeing or seem easily fatigued. Unless your child has annual eye examinations by an eye doctor, or has had trouble passing a vision screening, you may not know if your child has amblyopia. Sometimes children don’t mention any difficulty with their vision because they don’t realize that they have a problem. Fortunately, once amblyopia is identified, it is treatable, especially with early detection.
What Causes Amblyopia?
It’s not always clear what causes a person to develop a lazy eye. In many cases, one eye is more efficient and can focus on images better than the other eye. This causes the brain to receive both a clear image and a blurry image. Other potential causes of amblyopia include cataracts and, strabismus, and early sensory deprivation. With time, the brain will simply begin to ignore the blurry image which causes that eye’s vision to deteriorate.
What Treatment Options are Available for Amblyopia?
In most cases, amblyopia cannot be sufficiently corrected with prescription lenses alone. Fortunately, there are several non-surgical options available to treat this condition in addition to corrective lenses. Our Vision Development Team is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art vision therapy to promote the development of the amblyopic eye, leading to an improved quality of living for all our patients. We utilize a variety of treatments and therapy modalities in our clinical practice that can significantly improve your or your loved one’s eye health.
Vision therapy strengthens eye muscles and eye-brain connections. To do this, our vision therapists may use several treatment techniques, including:
- Eye-hand/body coordination drills, to strengthen the eye-brain connection
- Visual-motor and visual focusing drills, to improve the function and coordination of both the “good” eye and the “lazy eye”
- Various translucent patching techniques that encourage the brain to use and develop the focusing and movement skills of the “lazy” eye while still teaming with the non-amblyopic eye.
Eye drops and patching for penalization are rarely used at our office, as we have found there are more efficient ways to train the amblyopic eye while developing the necessary eye teaming skills that lead to stereopsis.
Of course, many children who are being treated for amblyopia do benefit from wearing corrective lenses, as well. In any case, a treatment plan should include regular check-ups to ensure that the condition is being adequately managed.
Are you, your child, or another loved one having difficulty with vision? Call The Vision Development Team today at (440) 230-0923 and see what we can do to help!