You may recognize ‘lazy eye’, or Amblyopia, when you see someone with one, or both, eyes wandering inwards or outwards. You may have met someone who has to wear an eyepatch for treatment. But what exactly is Amblyopia and what causes it?
This common eye condition typically develops in children under the age of seven and, as with all eye conditions, early diagnosis and proper treatment plan is your best bet of avoiding long-term vision disruptions and the possibility of complete blindness. Let us take you through exactly what ‘lazy eye’ is, the symptoms of this eye condition, three possible causes, and some common recommendations for treatment.
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Amblyopia and Lazy Eye: What You Need to Know
Amblyopia, more commonly known as ‘lazy eye’ is caused by the brain focusing its energy more on one eye than the other. What happens next is that the other eye is more, or less, ignored by the brain resulting in what people recognize as one ‘lazy’ looking eye. Contrary to its name, the eye is actually not lazy at all but the nerve within the eye is not connecting with the brain to its full potential. Without proper intervention, the nerves in the eye responsible for vision do not mature properly.
Some signs and symptoms of Amblyopia are:
- Inability to focus properly with one eye
- Blurred vision
- One eye looking in a different direction
- Double vision
- Deficient depth perception
What’s important to note is that often the brain and stronger eye will work harder to counteract the eye that is not able to communicate with the brain properly. What ends up happening is children often do not notice that they have an issue and the Amblyopia is not detected and diagnosed until they receive a children’s eye exam. Children between the ages of six and nine months should receive their first comprehensive eye exam, their second between the ages of two and five, and one every year after that.
If you have concerns about someone in your family having symptoms of Amblyopia contact the experts at My Optometrist with locations in both NE and SE Calgary to serve you and your family.
What Causes Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)?
Early detection and intervention of Amblyopia is incredibly important. When left untreated, “lazy eye” can result in blindness, permanent misalignment of the eyes, or developmentally impaired vision. Although the exact causes can vary, here are three known origins of “lazy eye”:
- Strabismus: Strabismus is caused by an imbalance in the muscles that position the eye. When these muscles do not work in unison, the eyes will end up either crossed or turned out in opposite directions. Because the muscles are imbalanced, it is incredibly difficult for the eyes to work as one unit and track objects together. Strabismus can be passed down through genetics, the result of farsightedness/nearsightedness, due to a viral illness, or from a trauma causing injury to the eye.
- Stimulus Deprivation Amblyopia (SDA): This is the most unlikely type of lazy eye to develop. SDA develops when an impairment prevents light stimulus from reaching the retina, disrupting the normal vision process. There are many possible causes for SDA such as an injury, glaucoma, ptosis, and other eye conditions affecting the vision in one eye.
- Anisometropic Amblyopia: This type of lazy eye syndrome is caused by severe far or near-sightedness in one eye. This results in Amblyopia occurring in the eye that is most affected by the vision impairment.
If you have concerns about your eye health our experienced NE Calgary Optometry team will be your Amblyopia experts. Let us provide a thorough eye exam to help you detect, prevent, and treat’ lazy eye’. We have three locations to help you and your family. Reach out today to book your appointment.
Treating Amblyopia: Your NE Calgary Eye Health Professionals
Because one eye will work hard to compensate for the other’s inactivity, it is important to catch Amblyopia early and begin a plan of treatment. When young, your brain and eye connection are still forming so treatment will be the most effective, and results will be best.
Depending on what type of ‘lazy eye’ is diagnosed, your Calgary Optometrist may recommend any combination of the following options:
- Corrective Lenses
- Medicated Eye Drops
- Eye Patch
- Bangerter Filter
- Vision Therapy
Even with proper treatment, lazy eye can be a recurring condition for many. Schedule regular appointments with your Calgary Optometrist for frequent preventative eye examinations.
1. Can adults get ‘lazy eye’?
Although Amblyopia typically is found in children, some adults can develop the condition later in life most likely due to trauma or an eye condition that affects the vision in one eye.
2. How do you know if your child has a ‘lazy eye'?
Your Optometrist will complete a series of simple, but effective, eye tests to confirm the suspicion of ‘lazy eye’ (Amblyopia). These tests will help to identify and detect eye strengths, weaknesses, and brain-eye connections.
3. Who is at higher risk for developing a ‘lazy eye’?
Amblyopia is more likely to occur if you, or your child, were born prematurely and at a much lower than average birth weight, has developmental delays and if you have a family history or the eye condition.