Amblyopia or lazy eye is a common eye problem that can affect children and adults. If not caught early, it can lead to blindness. Lazy eye usually starts at a young age, which makes it hard to prevent. This disorder is treatable and the earlier it is detected, the better the outcome for the patient. Therefore, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all children have their eyes examined at these times:
- Before reaching 3 months old
- Between the ages of 6 months and 1 year
- At 3 years old
- At 5 years old
Does Amblyopia Have Any Warning Signs?
Because children do not yet have a concept of what their vision should be, they are unaware that they are seeing things incorrectly because of amblyopia. There may be no symptoms that will alert parents of the problem. The main symptom that may indicate lazy eye is decreased visual acuity, which it usually only found during an eye exam. If amblyopia is developing, these symptoms may occur:
- An eye that deviates
- One eye that looks cloudy
- Signs that the child has an astigmatism or is nearsighted or farsighted
Amblyopia tends to run in families. If one of the parents or siblings has lazy eye, the likelihood of a child in the family having it increases. This is something that should be mentioned to your child’s eye doctor.
Early Treatment is Essential
The earlier lazy eye is treated, the better. For young children, if normal vision is not restored to the affected eye by the time they turn 6 years old, they may experience some permanent vision loss.
After determining what the underlying cause of the lazy eye is, treatment can begin. Depending on the severity of the problem, treatment can take anywhere from weeks, to months, to years. An eye patch over the stronger eye has long been the course of treatment for a lazy eye. However, the use of eye drops to blur the good eye may be recommended instead of a patch.
To prevent permanent problems from lazy eye, make sure your child’s eyes are examined as recommended. Contact Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 to schedule your child’s eye exam with one of our doctors.