What is Amblyopia/Lazy Eye?
Amblyopia is the most common vision condition affecting 3-5 percent of children. Amblyopia causes impairment of vision that cannot be fixed by regular glasses or contact lenses. Amblyopia or Lazy eye is a visual condition caused by an issue in how the brain interprets the data received from the eyes. The brain chooses the stronger eye, which causes the weaker eye to become less active, therefore the name “lazy eye”.
What causes Amblyopia/Lazy Eye?
When one eye is weaker, either due to strabismus ( where the patient can not align both eyes without effort), brain injury, nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. The brain chooses to favor the stronger eye over the weaker one. This causes the weaker eye to progressively get weaker as it becomes less used with time. There are three main causes for Amblyopia:
Refractive amblyopia –When one eye has severe nearsightedness or farsightedness, this causes the brain to ignore the visual input from that eye and favor the other eye.
Strabismic amblyopia –When both eyes are not aligned, the brain will ignore one eye to prevent causing double vision.
Deprivation amblyopia –Certain conditions will interfere with light entering in the eye, if one eye has high astigmatism or cataracts, the brain will favor the other eye.
How does Amblyopia Affect my vision?
An article in the November 2015 edition of the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus noted that
“The amblyopic children read more slowly and had more corrective saccades than nonamblyopic children with treated strabismus and normal controls. Fixation duration did not differ significantly among the two groups. The researchers concluded that amblyopia was associated with slower reading in school-age children, and treating it could improve reading speed and efficiency.”
Amblyopia can affect fine motor skills,
Can Amblyopia be treated in adults?
Can I detect Lazy Eye At Home?
It is not always possible to check amblyopia or lazy eye at home. One way to get an indication is to cover one eye at a time and see your child finds it hard with one of the eyes over the other. The recommendations of the American Optometric Association (AOA) a child should have their first pediatric eye exam at the age of 6 months, 3 years, before first grade, and every other year after that (yearly if they wear glasses). A developmental eye exam will allow the optometrist to understand all aspects of how your child’s vision is functioning and detect any issues that may be impeded with their learning and social acceptance. Because of the serious ramifications of misdiagnosis, our optometrists recommend that parents do not rely on any form of at home testing, and rather follow the guidelines from the AOA for when your child should have an eye exam.
Are there at home treatments for Lazy eye?
There are a variety of treatment options for amblyopia in children, there a no recommended options that are done without the supervision of a developmental optometrist.
Patching: By patching the strong eye, the brain is forced to use the weaker eye again, strengthening that eye. Because of the difficulty in getting children to wear patches, combined with it not being the most effective method, most pediatric eye doctors choose other methods over patching.
Shaw Lenses: Shaw lenses are glasses that work in a different way than regular glasses. Regular glasses correct each eye independently, then send the image to the brain for processing. Shaw lenses correct the combined image from both eyes. In many cases pediatric optometrists will prescribe shaw lenses combined with another treatment modality.
Atropine: Atropine eye drop therapy may be used alone or in conjunction with other treatment modalities.
Technology: There is a wide array of new technology to help improve amblyopia. As of 2018, effective technology such as Vivid Vision, RevitalVision, and binovi are used in conjunction with vision therapy to treat amblyopia.
According to the COVD, amblyopia can be treated by “a program of Vision Therapy to help improve the visual abilities of the eye with amblyopia including accommodation (focusing), fixation, saccades, pursuits (eye tracking) and spatial skills (eye-hand coordination). A program of Vision Therapy may reduce the frequency of patching since the goal of amblyopia therapy is to improve eye coordination, improve stereopsis (depth perception) and reduce suppression.”
I think my child has lazy eye, what should I do?
The best thing to do is to schedule a developmental eye exam. It is important to assess that the optometrist that you are visiting is a pediatric specialist, optometrists that are a member of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) have a higher level of training for patients with amblyopia.