Lazy eye is an eye disorder that begins in childhood and causes permanent vision damage if left untreated. Amblyopia, the medical term for lazy eye, occurs when a child’s vision does not develop correctly in one eye. Over time the stronger eye will compensate for the weaker eye and the brain will eventually disregard the image coming from the weaker eye. Without adequate use, the eye will continue to become weaker and weaker, eventually causing permanent vision impairment.
Causes of Lazy Eye
Almost any visual disorder that affects only one eye or both eyes to differing degrees can cause amblyopia. For example, a child may have a lot of astigmatism or be very nearsighted in one eye, while the other eye has perfect vision. A physical defect, such as cataracts, can affect one eye, while leaving the other untouched. Strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes that causes double vision, is another condition that can cause lazy eye. In an attempt to see clearly, the brain will ignore the image from the misaligned eye.
Detecting Lazy Eye in Childhood
Generally, amblyopia occurs only in one eye and does not cause the eye to turn inwards. Lazy eye is often confused with strabismus, which is physically apparent. Because the brain is compensating for the weak eye, the child is unlikely to complain of any visual problems. As such, it is unlikely that the child’s parent, teacher, or even pediatrician will be able to identify lazy eye in the child. As such, most preschools have set up a screening program to test young children for lazy eye. Parents who are concerned about lazy eye in an infant should request that their baby undergo a visual examination with a qualified optometrist, such as Dr. Semaan.
Treatment for Lazy Eye
In young children, the primary goal of treatment is to encourage the brain to begin using the weaker eye again. This is usually done by placing an eye patch over the stronger eye to force the child to use the weaker eye. At first, vision will be very blurry, but over time it will get stronger and clearer. Many children will also need eyeglasses to help them focus, but they may not need to wear them forever. The brain is able to retrain itself at any age, so the prognosis is good even if lazy eye is detected during adolescence or early adulthood. In these cases, a different type of visual therapy may be recommended to help retrain the brain.
Consulting with Dr. Semaan
Dr. Semaan is a highly qualified optometrist who has received the highest level of licensure in treating visual disorders. He has helped many children and adults to overcome amblyopia and is confident in his methods. Please contact us today to set up an initial consultation.