Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a common eye condition found in about 1 out of 30 people. It is usually caused by an undetected need for glasses in an infant or toddler, but can result from an eye turn. When one eye has normal eyesight and the other eye has poor eyesight, the person learns to see out of the eye with good eyesight. The vision in the weaker eye does not grow and develop as the child grows older. This can affect the ability for both eyes to coordinate together efficiently.
Some children seem to be unaffected by this when they are young, but when they are older they may struggle with school and sports performance. Left untreated, amblyopia can affect a child’s self-image, work, school, friendships and may also lead towards depression. Amblyopia results in a lack of depth perception and eye teaming, focusing and tracking issues. These difficulties can result in struggles in school or uncertainty in daily activities and sports. Later in life, an adult with amblyopia could be restricted in careers they choose. Office based vision therapy programs offer the highest cure rates for lazy eye compared to eye surgery, glasses alone or patching without therapy.
Kids don’t want to wear their eye patch because it impacts their quality of life and other treatment methods like eye drops can cause light sensitivity and disorientation. As a result, amblyopia doesn’t always go away with patching therapy alone. Even the patient who has done patching therapy will typically have a condition, known as suppression, where the amblyopic eye shuts off, leading to stereo blindness and a deficient in depth perception, being accident prone and poor eye-hand coordination. Therefore, patching therapy is an outdated and largely ineffective approach to a complex and serious vision disorder.
The first step is to get a pair of glasses or glasses that can be worn comfortably. This starts the process of correcting the original problem of one eye being able to see more clearly than the other. Then, the ability for the two eyes to work together as a team must be developed through an individualized program of vision therapy. The person may still require glasses after the completion of the vision therapy program. The goal is for the patient to have normal eyesight, eye teaming, eye focusing and eye movement skills.
The earlier the condition is found and treated, the better the functional outcome; however, our office successfully treats patients well into adulthood. Vision therapy should be started with anyone who does not have 20/20 vision with glasses or contacts in each eye or with anyone who has dysfunctions in any of the visual skills needed for visual success. The Vision Therapy Institute provides advanced, evidence based, amblyopia vision therapy. This method emphasizes the development of binocular vision and visual information processing
For more information and research on amblyopia treatment, please visit www.theamblyopiaproject.com.