Lazy eye (or amblyopia) is a relatively common visual problem among younger kids and the leading cause of vision problems in kids. Without prompt treatment, amblyopia can eventually cause a decreased quality of life, visual disorientation, and even problems with self-esteem and self-confidence.
Randa Garrana, MD, and the team at Advanced Lasik help patients overcome “lazy eye” problems using a custom approach aimed at “balancing out” the vision responses of both eyes. Here’s why amblyopia happens and how we can help treat it.
The name “lazy eye” sounds a little derogatory, but it actually refers to the basis of amblyopia: one eye is “lazier” in responding to visual signals compared to the other eye. The weaker eye develops a tendency to drift inward or outward, while the stronger eye stays focused.
Amblyopia may develop as a result of another underlying problem that “blocks” vision in one eye. Some common causes include:
In most kids, though, amblyopia develops during a period of critical visual development for reasons that aren’t clearly understood.
In addition to drifting or “wandering” of the affected eye, other amblyopia symptoms include:
Amblyopia isn’t always obvious, and it requires an eye exam to properly diagnose. That’s one reason why it’s so important for your child to have eye exams during early childhood.
No matter what causes amblyopia, prompt treatment is critical for helping your child avoid more serious problems with vision. Amblyopia treatment focuses on encouraging the “lazy eye” to pull its own weight in terms of vision and focusing.
To do that, Dr. Garrana usually recommends using an eye patch over the dominant eye to force the “lazy” eye to become more active and engaged in the process of seeing. The patch may be worn throughout the day or intermittently for a period of time that will depend on how quickly your child responds to treatment.
In some patients, Dr. Garrana uses a blurred lens to block vision in the dominant eye, or she may prescribe atropine drops to relax the dominant eye and transfer the “workload” to the weaker eye.
Treatment is most effective when it begins during early childhood, while your child is growing and developing. However, treatment can begin at any age to help improve both eye function and overall vision.
Having regular childhood eye exams helps identify amblyopia and other vision problems in their earliest stages, so they can be treated as soon as possible. Often, early treatment is more successful and less complex than treatment that occurs later in life or even later in childhood.
If you suspect your child has a vision problem or if you need to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child, call our office in Long Beach, California, or book an appointment online and learn how Dr. Garrana can help.