Lazy Eye Causes and Treatment

Lazy eye is a condition or disorder of the eye. This condition is characterized by a poor vision by an eye that is otherwise physically normal. This condition is also known as Amblyopa. This condition affects a small fraction of the population, about 1%. Lazy eye disorder is characterized by inability of the eye not to perceive good clear vision due to failure of the optical nerve not transmitting messages to the brain as it normally should. This condition occurs to young children and mainly affects one eye. It is however possible that the condition will affect both eyes.

However, the possibility of lazy eye affecting both the eyes cannot be ruled out. This eye problem is quite common and is found in nearly one out of every twenty five children. The characteristic of lazy eye is either poor or unclear vision. The main cause of lazy eye is believed to be that the visual image is not sent to the brain in a coordinated manner. As a result, both the eyes fail to work together. It is to be noted that lazy eye does not have any effect on the side vision of the eyes.

Symptoms of Lazy Eye:

When a child is mildly affected by lazy eye, no symptoms are noticeable. This is because, the stronger eye functions normally. In severe cases, inadequate depth perception, sharpness of vision and sense of contrast are seen. The most common symptoms of lazy eye are squinting of eyes or complete closure of the weak eye, strain in eyes and headache. People suffering from lazy eye find it difficult to see three dimensional images of autostereograms. The perception of size or motion parallax in patients of lazy eye, remains normal.

Common Causes of a Lazy Eye

Refractive Amblyopia:

One type of lazy eye, called refractive amblyopia, is caused when one eye is more nearsighted or farsighted than the other, making it difficult for the eyes to focus together.  Refractive amblyopia starts early in life.  An infant has no way of telling his parents one of his eyes isn’t seeing as clearly as the other, so his visual system has to try to handle the problem on its own.  Because it’s difficult to fuse a clear image with a blurry one, the brain learns vision is better if it suppresses the blurry eye that’s interfering and just uses the clear one.

The long-term suppression of the blurry eye causes vision to stop developing.  Once this type of lazy eye is discovered, treatment involves prescribing glasses or contacts to help equalize the vision in both eye.  Eye patching can help improve the sharpness of vision in the lazy eye, and vision therapy is often needed to establish binocularity and assist development of the compromised visual skills that didn’t have a chance to develop on their own because of suppression.  (Please see information below on how vision therapy can help a lazy eye.

Strabismic Amblyopia:

Another common cause of lazy eye is strabismus. Strabismus, often referred to as a crossed or wandering eye, is a condition in which the brain is unable to properly align the eyes. As a result, one eye may point in or out, up or down. When the eyes are not pointing at the same place, two different pictures are being sent to the brain.

Because the brain can’t combine two obviously different pictures into a single image, the result is double vision. The brain is then forced to turn off the picture coming in from the misaligned eye to avoid seeing double. The child only uses his straight eye to see, and vision in the turned eye does not have a chance to develop.

Lazy Eye Treatment:

Lazy eye exercises also bring about marked improvement in the condition and enable the eyes to perform their task in sync with each other. Here, the doctors often put a patch on the strong eye so that the lazy eye can get back its ability to see. The exercises need to be done every day for certain number of hours. It should be continued for few months for best possible results.

  1. With lazy eyes and the discovery of the ailment, the sooner the better and that has always been the case. The treatment of lazy eyes becomes that much easier when the problem is discovered at an early stage.
  2. Patching combined with vision therapy. It is imperative that parents of a child with a lazy eye fully understand their treatment options so they can make the best choice for their child.
  3. In the rare event of an individual suffering from large discrepancies in the form of near sightedness and far sightedness in both the eyes, surgery is the best option. Surgery, in a situation such as this, is almost unavoidable. Surgery can help you rectify right way all problems associated with eye muscles that can further help you focus on any particular thing!
  4. A popular way of correcting the ailment of lazy eyes involves eye exercises and an eye patch. This method of treating a lazy eye is resorted to when surgery does not seem like an absolute must! Here, the doctor will suggest a few exercises that the person who is suffering from lazy eyes will just have to practice. Apart from practicing these exercises, it is also a must for a patient of lazy eyes to wear an eye patch over the strong eye. By doing this, the doctor is only helping the patient’s lazy eye get stronger.
  5. With children, an eye patch is always an issue. No child would like to wear an eye patch and especially so when in the company of their peers. However, this does not mean the end of the road is near. To help set right the disadvantages of an eye patch, there always are lenses. This is where prosthetic contact lenses work best. These lenses look extremely similar to normal lenses and can be worn specifically to bar the vision of the affected eye.
  6. Lastly, there are atropine drops that work pretty well when it comes to correcting the ailment of a lazy eye. Here, a drop of atropine is poured over the strong eye or the unaffected eye. This almost instantly affects the vision of the strong eye, thus forcing the person to see with lazy eye or the affected eye.