Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, only affects around 3% of the population. It typically only impacts one eye, though in rare cases it impacts both eyes.
It is characterized when an eye fails to achieve normal visual acuity, even with the use of corrective lenses (eyeglassess or contact lenses). Lazy eye usually begins development in early in life (infancy).
If detected and treated early, most vision loss can be totally prevented. Without treatment, amblyopia can result in significant vision loss in the impacted eye(s).
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) Symptoms
As lazy eye often develops when we are just children, it can be hard for a caregiver to detect unaided. As children lack the language and ability to properly communicate what vision anomalies they are experiencing, a comprehensive eye exam is the appropriate first step in diagnosing amblyopia.
Symptoms include strabismus, where one of the eyes is out of alignment, as well as favoring one eye (the “good” eye).
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) Treatment
In some cases, amblyopia is treated effectively using corrective lenses. In most cases, an eye patch (or other type of vision obstruction) is required.
By blocking out sensory input from the primary “good” eye, the brain is forced to develop the neural pathways that connect the amblyopic eye to it. By building these connections, the vision is corrected and visual acuity improves.
Treatment may involve wearing an eye patch for hours at a time for a period spanning weeks or months. Corrective surgery may also be required to properly align the eyes prior to eye patching.
While treatment is effective for all ages, it is best when started young.