When raising a child, it’s important to pay attention to their vision development. Sometimes a child’s eyes do not develop proper vision, or one eye has significantly worse vision than the other. This is a condition called amblyopia or, more commonly, “lazy eye.” Amblyopia affects around 2-3 percent of children, but in many cases, it can be treated!

What Is Amblyopia, or Lazy Eye?

Amblyopia can develop due to a few different vision issues:

  • One eye points in a different direction from the other
  • One eye has significant refractive problems that cause it to have much worse vision than the other eye
  • A droopy eyelid partially blocks one eye
  • A childhood cataract prevents proper development of one eye

In all these cases, the result is that the brain essentially stops trying to use the affected eye for vision. It ignores input from that eye, partially or completely, while relying on the better eye for vision.

If left untreated, this can lead to lifelong vision problems! Basically, the brain may forget how to use the weaker eye – and it could be permanent.

How Amblyopia Is Treated

Most treatments for amblyopia involve forcing the child – and the child’s brain – to rely on the weak eye, so that it continues to develop.

The most common treatment option is also the most basic: an eyepatch. The child wears an eyepatch over their good eye, for weeks or months, until the brain is forced to fully rely on the weak eye. This allows that eye’s development to continue normally, and reduces the chances of permanent disability.

Another common option is to use special glasses which inhibit the good eye, and likewise, force the child’s brain to pay more attention to the bad eye.

Be aware, using such methods require vigilance from the parent. The child will undoubtedly try to remove the eyepatch or glasses, and must be made to understand how necessary they are. You’ll need to pay close attention, and ensure they use their corrective devices until your ophthalmologist sees improvement.

In some rare cases, surgery may also be considered. This is most common when the weaker eye is pointed in the wrong direction. Surgery can also correct droopy eyelids which block vision. However, all childhood surgery must be carefully considered in consultation with multiple experts, due to the dangers.

Valley Eyecare Center are your Phoenix, AZ, eye care experts! If you suspect your child has vision problems, please don’t delay – contact us for a checkup!