Children can experience a variety of vision issues that can impact their overall quality of life. One issue of particular concern for children is lazy eye. Diagnosing and treating lazy eye as soon as possible is essential for protecting vision and preventing permanent damage. Seeking professional eye care services can help improve vision and prevent problems. For more information about treatment for lazy eye, schedule a consultation with Chicago, IL eye doctor Steven Chander.
What Is Lazy Eye?
Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a condition beginning in childhood in which one eye focuses better than the other. Issues with focusing vision may stem from one eye being more farsighted, nearsighted, or having more astigmatism than the other. When one eye sees better than the other, the brain may begin to ignore blurry images from the other eye.
A classic sign of lazy eye is when the eyes don't line up. One eye may be turned out or in. This condition is called strabismus, often making it difficult for children to focus their eyes together. When the eyes are unable to focus together, it can cause double vision. Over time, amblyopia may develop as the brain begins to ignore the images from one of the eyes in an attempt to adjust for the double vision caused by strabismus.
In some cases, lazy eye may be caused by a cataract, blood at the back of the eye, or something else blocking light from the retina.
Diagnosing Lazy Eye
It may not be possible to tell if a child has lazy eye just by looking at him or her, which is why scheduling eye exams for children is so important. It's especially important to schedule an eye exam before your child is school-aged. It is recommended that children have an eye exam as early as 6 months, and, provided no issues were detected at 6 months old, a subsequent exam at 3 years old, followed by checkups every two years.
Treatment for Lazy Eye
As children grow older, treating amblyopia becomes more difficult and can cause permanent vision impairment. Treating lazy eye as soon as possible will provide the best and most successful results. Fortunately, there are different options for treating lazy eye, allowing treatment to be tailored to each child's needs. Some treatments include:
- Wearing an eye patch: Wearing an eye patch over the strong eye is one of the most common treatments for correcting amblyopia. It may be difficult for a child to see out of the weak eye at first, but as the weaker eye is forced to focus, vision generally improves. The patch is only worn until the eye doctor finds that vision has returned to normal.
- Glasses: It is not uncommon for children with amblyopia to require glasses. Glasses can help correct blurry vision caused by astigmatism, farsightedness, or nearsightedness, making it easier for the eyes to focus. Glasses may be combined with other treatments to enhance results.
- Cataract surgery: If a cataract forms, it can impair vision and cause amblyopia to develop. Treating amblyopia caused by cataracts generally requires surgery to remove the cataract.
- Atropine eye drops: When amblyopia is mild, atropine eye drops may be a suitable treatment options. Atropine drops are used in place a the patch to blur vision in the stronger eye, encouraging the child to use the weaker eye.
- Surgery to repair eye muscles: Amblyopia caused by the eyes not properly moving together, or strabismus, may require surgery to repair the eye muscles.
Schedule a Consultation
If you suspect your child suffers from lazy eye, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chander at your earliest convenience.