Lazy eye also known as amblyopia is decreased vision in one eye. It is caused by an abnormal vision development in the early stage of life. The lazy or weaker eye usually wanders outward or inward.
Amblyopia or lazy eye often starts from birth up to age 7 years. It is also the leading cause of reduced vision in one eye in children. Amblyopia rarely affects both eyes.
Early diagnosis and treatment also help in preventing long-term problems. Lazy eye is often corrected with contact lenses or glasses and also eye patches.
Lazy eye cause is as a result of an abnormal visual experience in the early stage of life. This changes the nerve pathways between a thin layer of tissue (retina) that are at the back of the brain and the eye.
The lazy or weaker eye gets fewer visual signals. This also reduces the ability of the eyes together, and the brain also ignores or reduces any input from the weaker eye.
Some common lazy eye causes include:
- A change in the sharpness of vision between the eyes or refractive anisometropia. A notable difference in the prescriptions in each eye. This is usually as a result of farsightedness. Near-sightedness or an imperfection on the surface of the eye called astigmatism can also cause a lazy eye. Contact lenses or glasses can also be used to correct these refractive problems.
- Deprivation. Problems with an eye like a cloudy area in the lens or cataract can also decrease clear vision in that eye. When this occurs in infancy, it needs fast treatment to prevent any permanent loss of vision. Deprivation amblyopia usually leads to most severe amblyopia cases.
- Muscle imbalance or strabismus.This is a common cause of lazy eye. It occurs when they are imbalances in the muscles that position the eyes. This makes the eyes turn out or cross in. and also prevents them from working together in a coordinated way.
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Some signs and symptoms include:
- Shutting an eye
- Squinting an eye
- An eye that wanders outward or inward
- Head tilting
- Eyes that appear to not work together
- Abnormal results in vision screening tests
- Poor depth perception
Some of the factors that increase the risk of lazy eye include:
- Family history of lazy eye
- Premature birth
- Developmental disabilities
- Small size at birth
When left untreated, lazy eye can lead to a permanent loss of vision.
A thorough eye exam will be done by your doctor. The health of your eyes, a wandering eye and a difference in vision between the eyes will also be checked.
Eye drops can be used to dilate the eyes. The eye drops can also lead to blurred vision lasting for several hours or a day.
The way used to test vision is dependent on the age of your child and also on the stage of development.
- In preverbal kids.A magnifying device with light is used to check for cataracts. Some other test can also assess if a toddler is able to fixate his or her gaze and to also follow a moving object.
- In children ages 3 and older.Tests can be done using letters or pictures to check the child’s vision.
Treatment will depend on the causes of lazy eye. And also on how much it affects the vision of your child. The following may be advised by your doctor:
- Eye patches. An eye patch is worn over the stronger eye. This helps to stimulate the weaker eye. Eye patches can be worn for 2-6 hours in a day.
- Corrective eyewear. Contact lenses or glasses are also used to correct problems like astigmatism or nearsightedness which results in a lazy eye.
- Eye drops. Drugs like Atropine (Isopto Atropine) can be used twice in a week. This drug can also blur the vision of the stronger eye temporarily. This will make the child use the weaker eye. Eye drops are also an alternative to wearing an eye patch.
- Bangerter filter.This is placed on the eyeglass lens of the stronger eye. The filter also helps to blur the stronger eye, helps to stimulate the weaker eye. This filter works like an eye patch.
- Surgery may be advised by your doctor if child’s eyes wander or cross. This will help to repair the eye muscles surgically.
- Activity-based These include doing puzzles, drawing, or playing computer games. The effectiveness of these activities hasn’t been proved.