Lazy eye (medically referred to as amblyopia) is a developmental disorder in the case of which normal visual acuity is not achieved and glasses or contact lenses do not help. Amblyopia develops at an early age and may inhibit the development of normal visual acuity. In most cases, only one eye is affected.
Early diagnosis can prevent loss of vision with the help of different treatment options. If left untreated, permanent vision loss in the lazy eye can occur.
• Crossed eyes or strabismus. If you notice that your child is crossing their eyes, book an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible.
• Impaired depth perception – problems with estimating the distance of objects, grabbing things.
• Closing one eye or squinting.
• Unnatural turning of the head towards the observable object – only one eye is used for viewing.
Strabismus is the most common cause for a lazy eye. Crossing causes double vision and the brain “turns off” the image of the deviating eye to avoid seeing double. This disrupts the development of vision in that eye. This form of lazy eye is called strabismic amblyopia.
Sometimes the cause for a lazy eye is different visual acuity of the eyes. When the visual acuity is different, the brain suppresses the image of the deviating eye and this causes the occurrence of amblyopia.
In the case of refractive amblyopia, crossed eyes may not develop and the problem may only be discovered during an eye examination.
Amblyopia resulting from eye diseases that cause a decrease in visual acuity
This type of amblyopia is caused by eye diseases that damage the visual acuity of the eye. For example, a congenital cataract or clouding of the eye lens prevents a sufficient amount of light from getting into the child’s eye. The brain does not learn to use visual information correctly, which could result in a lazy eye.
There are many ways to treat amblyopia, and they largely depend on the severity of the disorder. The aim of the treatment is to limit the use of the eye with better visual acuity to force the lazy eye to work.
Occlusion therapy means that the eye with better vision is covered up to force the lazy eye to work. The most common method is to cover the non-amblyopic eye with a special sticker or eye patch. A special contact lens can also be used.
Eyeglasses and contact lenses
In the case of refractive amblyopia, prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses of correct strength may be sufficient to achieve normal vision. The prescription of glasses is often followed by occlusion therapy.
Surgery for correcting the alignment of the eyes is also used to treat amblyopia. The surgery is followed by occlusion therapy or covering the non-amblyopic eye and different exercises to restore eye coordination.