Lazy Eye or Amblyopia – All You Need to Know

Lazy eye

Also known as amblyopia, lazy eye is a vision development disorder that causes abnormal visual development in early childhood. It is developed when the eye and the brain are not stimulated properly, and the brain favors one eye over the other. It can also be said that when nerve cells responsible for vision do not develop as they should, it results in a ‘lazy eye’.

Usually, amblyopia occurs in one eye, but in some cases, it can occur in both the eyes.

What causes lazy eye?

Here are the leading causes of a lazy eye:

Strabismus – A condition where the muscles responsible for the positioning of eyes are imbalanced is known as strabismus. This imbalance makes it difficult to track an object with both eyes together. As a result, the eyes turn out or cross.

Now to avoid double vision, the brain ignores the visuals received by the misaligned eye. This eventually leads to a lazy eye.

Stimulus Deprivation – When light doesn’t enter an eye due to some obstruction, it tends to become weaker. It could be due to eye surgery, glaucoma, a scar, cataract, etc.

Refractive Amblyopia – When eyes have unequal refractive errors despite correct alignment, it can lead to amblyopia. For example, there may be near or farsightedness in just one eye. Or, there may be significant astigmatism in one eye and not the other.

What are the symptoms of a lazy eye?

Here are the symptoms you must look for:

  • Blurred Vision – When both the eyes together cannot focus on a single object clearly, the resulting image tends to be blurred.
  • Double Vision – This is caused due to the misalignment of eyes.
  • Miscoordination – Because of a lack of coordination between the eyes, they can’t focus on an object.
  • Eye Turn – It is a common symptom when both the eyes turn in different directions.

How is the lazy eye diagnosed?

Your eye doctor will examine both your eyes, checking for a wandering eye, eye health, difference in vision between two eyes, or poor vision. Before conducting the exam, they will use an eye drop to dilate your eyes which may result in a blurred vision for up to several hours.

In infants, a magnifying device is used for an eye examination. The eye doctor may also assess their ability to follow moving objects and fix their gaze at a stationary object.

In children above the age of 3, the test is done using pictures and letters.

Amblyopia Treatment

  1. Glasses, Contact Lenses or Lasik Surgery
    Your doctor may prescribe corrective glasses or contact lenses to help you focus on things clearly. This, sometimes, also helps with double vision.

    In certain cases, your doctor may suggest undergoing Lasik eye surgery which not only eliminates the problem entirely but also stops it from forming again in the future.

  2. Surgery and Eye Care
    Lazy eye surgery is done to improve the turn and alignment of the eye. After the surgery, you will have to wear an eye patch over the dominant eye. This strengthens the weaker eye. The patch develops the part of the brain that controls the vision.
  3. Atropine Drops
    Atropine drops are put in the unaffected eye to blur its vision. They dilate the vision in the good eye so that the weaker eye can work more and better.

Early treatment of amblyopia is extremely critical because if overlooked, the condition can lead to permanent vision problems. So, for proper visual development in kids, consult your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms.

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