Lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, is an eye condition that predominantly affects children. Early disturbances in visual development cause one eye to weaken and, subsequently, wander toward the right or left. Below is an introduction to this common eye issue and how an eye doctor can help.
Understanding Lazy Eye
In most cases of lazy eye, one eye has better focus than the other. Over time, the brain focuses only on the clear image it is seeing through the dominant eye, and vision will wane in the less-dominant one. This results in the less-dominant eye weakening and becoming misaligned.
There a few different reasons why one eye might initially have better focus than the other. The most common is an imbalance in the muscles that position the eyes. Substantial differences in the clarity and sharpness of each eye can also be contributing factors. If a child has a problem with one specific eye early in life, such as a cataract, the other may overcompensate, leading to lazy eye.
The most obvious sign of this condition is an eye wandering inward or outward or both appearing not to work in unison. Vision in one eye will be noticeably less sharp, often with poor depth perception. A child with lazy eye will frequently shut the weaker eye, squint, or tilt their head to one side when trying to focus their vision. Bear in mind that in some cases a lazy eye may not be visibly apparent and can only be diagnosed by an eye doctor.
Lazy eye is diagnosed during an eye exam with an optometrist. Make an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as you notice a wandering eye; this can happen as early as within the first few weeks of a child's life. If you or someone in your family has had a lazy eye, crossed eyes, or childhood cataracts, there is an increased likelihood of a child developing the condition. For all children, a comprehensive eye exam should be performed between ages three and five.
When caught early enough, lazy eye is treatable and does not cause permanent vision problems. Your eye doctor will likely prescribe glasses or contact lenses to remedy the issue. Eye patches are also sometimes recommended. In more serious cases, the doctor may perform surgery to correct lazy eye.
Always stay on top of potential vision problems, especially in young children. The eye care professionals at Midwest Eye Center: A Division of TriState Centers for Sight are here to help. Serving the greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky areas, their eye doctors can diagnose and treat lazy eye, as well as a number of other visual issues, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and dry eyes. Call (859) 525-6215 or visit them online to schedule an appointment.