What is a Lazy Eye?
Amblyopia is commonly referred to as a lazy eye. Amblyopia is an ocular condition where the best corrected vision is decreased in a relatively healthy eye. Amblyopia is present in about 2-4% of the general population1. Vision is always poorer in the amblyopic eye due to the disrupted visual development and the lack of visual stimulation and clear vision to the brain.
What causes amblyopia? It can be caused by many factors such as strabismus (eye turn), uncorrected vision, congenital cataracts, and droopy eyelids. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first eye examination at 6 months old, then at 3 years old, and prior to entering first grade at 6 years old2. Children’s visual pathways are developed up to the ages of 7-8. If vision is not corrected with eyeglasses prior that age period, a child may develop amblyopia. We see patients as young as 6 months old to look for amblyopic factors. It is even more important for children with family history of amblyopia to be examined.
How do we treat amblyopia? If the child is under 7-8 years of old, there is excellent potential to prevent and treat amblyopia with patching the “good” opposite eye for a few hours per day. Treatment plan varies due to the severity of amblyopia. Compliance with treatment can be an issue, therefore eye drops may also be prescribed for the opposite eye in lieu of patching. The goal of both patching and eye drop therapies is to blur the vision in the “good eye” and stimulate the “lazy eye.”