Lazy Eye: What is it? And What Can Parents Do About It?
“Lazy Eye,” or Amblyopia, is easy to miss because there are very few symptoms. Lazy Eye means that the eye sees poorly, even with eyeglasses. Usually when parents see an eye that doesn’t seem to line up correctly they think that is a “lazy eye.” In fact, that is a condition called an eye turn, or Strabismus. It is important for parents to understand that while amblyopia and strabismus often occur together, you won’t always see an eye wander off when your child has amblyopia.
Some early childhood symptoms that might indicate that there is a problem include difficulty in catching or hitting a ball. Another symptom is if your child has difficulty seeing 3D movies. Being able to see 3D is not just a fun thing to do in the movies, it is important for every day life. As an example, we use 3 dimensional vision to ride a bicycle, walk down stairs, play sports and for all activities that require eye-hand coordination. If your child always knocks over the milk at the dinner table, is clumsy or has sloppy handwriting, these could also be signs of a vision problem.
Treatment for amblyopia is different depending on which doctor you see. Some will tell you that nothing can be done after age 7 or 9. However, new research is confirming what we have known for years; thanks to optometric vision therapy, it is never too late to treat a lazy eye! It is definitely true that the earlier amblyopia and other vision conditions are diagnosed, the easier they are to treat and manage. But, even adults well into their 40’s and older can often benefit from vision therapy.
As a parent it is important to educate yourself on ALL treatment options because children do not outgrow eye turns or lazy eye. Surgery is not the only way to treat an eye turn and there are more effective treatment options for lazy eye other than patching alone (with or without drops).
Optometric vision therapy has helped many patients achieve normal vision in their amblyopic eye and has also resulted in eyes that are straight without the need for surgery! If you have been told your child is too old to treat, there is still hope. Vision therapy gets excellent results no matter how old the patient is.