Diagnosis of a “lazy eye.” Now what??
For parents who have just received a diagnosis or suspect that their child has amblyopia, often known as a lazy eye, there’s generally a sense of panic. Most parents rush to the computer to search for answers about lazy eye in children. As you begin to research the condition, here are 15 things to keep in mind:
- Amblyopia is when the brain rejects the image from one eye, but the eyes may or may not be crossed. Strabismus is the term for an eye that crosses.
- Amblyopia is caused by poor binocular vision (eyes not working together).
- Amblyopia is reversible with therapy, unlike structural damage that may occur due to eye health problems. Instead of the problem being the physical structure responsible for vision, it has to do with the signal the brain is receiving from that eye.
- The brain can “turn off” the image that is being sent from the eye that doesn’t see as well.
- Amblyopia will affect a child’s ability to see in three dimensions (depth perception).
- The acuity, or clarity, eventually becomes worse when the brain rejects the signal from the amblyopic eye.
- Improving the acuity is just the first step to overcoming amblyopia. The eyes must also be retrained to work together. This is called binocular vision.
- Strabismus (eye turn) can result in amblyopia, as the brain turns off the signal from the turned eye. A high refractive condition (or glasses prescription) can also result in amblyopia.
- If your child is clumsy, their poor gross motor coordination may be related to one eye not seeing as clearly as the other. Amblyopia is a sign of poor vision development, and the visual system leads the way in gross and fine motor development.
- Amblyopia may not always be detected at a vision screening.
- Even over the age of eight children can benefit from treatment for amblyopia. Adults with amblyopia can also benefit from the treatment.
- You can use non-invasive measures like vision therapy, to treat amblyopia.
- The misconception that a child’s vision could not be corrected past the “critical period” of age 8 was due to misinterpreted scientific research.
- The circuitry of the brain, which affects amblyopia, can be changed at any age.
- Patching alone may result in only a short-term fix because the underlying binocular vision problem is not being addressed.
These are important concepts to understand as you begin to seek out your treatment options. We encourage you to learn more about them, from a behavioral optometrist who specializes in vision therapy, in order to pursue the most effective plan.