Most people have heard of a lazy eye before, however most people do not fully understand what a lazy eye actually is. The correct term for a lazy eye is actually amblyopia. This is a condition that is caused by the brain not translating the correct visual information that an eye is trying to transmit. Many people have often mistaken a lazy eye for a different condition known as strabismus. Strabismus is the condition in which one of the eyes seems to be lazy. It does not follow the other eye at the same time and often seems unfocused or doing its own thing. This is why many people have given the term lazy eye to the wrong medical condition.
The reason amblyopia is known as lazy eye is because the information
from one eye is not making it to the brain. Therefore it is known as
being lazy. Amblyopia is not a condition that can be treated with
glasses or contact lenses, however when detected early on in childhood
it can be remedied.
There are a few factors that can contribute to the development of
amblyopia. If a child is born with eyes that are of two different
prescriptions then the brain may choose to see only that of the stronger
eye, therefore eliminating the vision from the lazy eye and causing the
amblyopia to worsen over time. Also the condition mention above called
strabismus can cause amblyopia. If one of the eyes is constantly out of
focus or lagging behind, the brain may ignore what that eye is doing
altogether. Other times a drooping eyelid that blocks some of the vision
or a cataract or other form of vision impairment can also result in
Luckily if caught early enough there are things that can be done to
strengthen the vision in the weaker of the two eyes. If the cause of the vision impairment is due to a drooping eyelid then the eyelid may need to be fixed surgically to allow for better vision. If the underlying cause is something that can be remedied then that is always the first step. The next step involves forcing the weaker of the two eyes to become stronger. This is done by blocking the vision in the stronger eye and making the weaker eye do all the perceiving. This can be done with an eye patch over the stronger eye or with eye drops that cause the stronger eye to become blurry for a few hours a day. This will not weaken the stronger eye but will however give the weaker eye a chance to take over and catch up to the stronger eye.
This process may need to be done for several hours a day. It can take weeks, months or even years of this sort of eye therapy before the weaker of the eyes has finally started functioning at a strong enough level. Because it can take a while to remedy it is best if the problem is diagnosed by the time the child is of preschool age. Since most kids will not visit an eye doctor until school age the amblyopia may not be detected until later on. If the child has a condition that is more obvious such as a droopy eyelid or an eye that suffers from strabismus the pediatrician may notice earlier and refer the patient to an eye doctor sooner for an evaluation.
Although amblyopia is best treated at a very young age, results have
shown that children up into their teens can still benefit from amblyopia treatment and are able to restore much of their vision. Since there are many eye problems that are not obvious, it is important to have your child's eyes checked regularly in order to detect any visual impairments.