In order for a child to develop normal, health vision, the brain must receive clear and aligned images from both eyes. There are several conditions that can interfere with this process, and over a sufficient length of time, a child’s developing brain can learn to permanently ignore the weaker eye, and favor the stronger or dominant eye. This condition is called amblyopia, commonly referred to as lazy eye.
Amblyopia is most commonly associated with misalignment of the eyes. It may also be caused by a large or unequal refractive error between the eyes. In rare cases, amblyopia may result if vision is blocked by a cataract, corneal scar, droopy eyelid, or excessive patching therapy.
Amblyopia: Treatment Overview
The initial stage in treating amblyopia is to address any refractive error using the best possible prescription for eyeglasses. Misalignment of the eyes is addressed by using an eye patch or topical atropine for the dominant eye to force the child to use their weak eye. Surgery may be necessary to realign the eyes in cases involving strabismus, or to remove an obstruction in the rare case of a cataract or droopy eyelid. Treating amblyopia as early as possible is the most effective way to prevent vision loss and have the best possible outcome.