Amblyopia or “Lazy Eye” occurs when the vision of one eye is weakened by the brain suppressing or ignoring its images and favoring the other eye. About 3% of the population has amblyopia, generally undiagnosed. It is not correctable with glasses or surgery and can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Fortunately, amblyopia can be treated with vision therapy at any age, but responds particularly well when discovered early. Lazy eye may not be detectable in a basic eye exam, however, and must be diagnosed through specialized visual acuity testing.
If you have a lazy eye, symptoms may include:
- Eyestrain or headaches
- Poor depth perception
- Squinting, tilting the head or closing one eye to see
- Itchy or watery eyes
Poor depth perception may cause problems with:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Sports performance
- Maneuvering steps
- Driving skill
- Making crafts
Amblyopia is typically caused by:
- Strabismus – crossed or misaligned eyes
- Unequal vision prescription in eyes (farsightedness or nearsightedness)
- Physical obstruction of vision (cataract)
With strabismus, eyes misaligned by even a millimeter will create differing angles and, therefore conflicting images, sent to the brain. Two separate images sent to the brain create a blurry image, making it more comfortable for the brain to ignore one eye. This creates a two-dimensional view, not 3D, hence the poor depth perception. The suppressed eye then becomes weak from disuse, which may eventually lead to blindness. The same result can occur from unequal vision prescriptions and cataracts.
The favored or overworked eye bears the brunt of the stress and strain of every day focusing and vision work. This creates headaches, eyestrain, discomfort, and often leads to avoidance of reading or near work, which in turn can lead to misdiagnoses of learning disorders or ADHD in a child.
If you suspect lazy eye in yourself or child, please make an appointment with us for a comprehensive vision evaluation. If amblyopia is diagnosed, it is common to proceed with patching and eye drops in young children. Vision therapy has been proven helpful for children of all ages, as well as adults. Therapy consists of age appropriate eye exercises and activities to encourage both eyes to work together with the brain equally and consistently.
Symptoms should not be ignored, nor should a comprehensive vision evaluation be replaced by a basic eye exam. The consequences of lazy eye can be severe and are unnecessary, particularly when the symptoms are very treatable. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today!