“Lazy eye” is a term often used to describe amblyopia, which is a vision-related problem affecting many people. With amblyopia, both eyes can be affected, but in most cases, only one eye has a problem, thus the term “lazy eye” (singular). One eye is weaker than the other, and the strong eye tries to compensate for the problem, so it’s possible for a person to not know they even have amblyopia. Over time, the “lazy” eye will get weaker if it does not receive treatment by an eye doctor.
There are misconceptions about amblyopia and it’s important to know about them if you or someone you know suffers from this eye condition:
Adult Amblyopia Can No Longer Be Treated
There is such a thing as a critical period during which a condition or a disease can still be treated. Many people have the misconception that the critical period during which amblyopia will still respond to treatment is when a child’s visual system is still undergoing its most critical development.
However, some research indicates that treatment is still possible outside the critical period, as the brain has what is known as plasticity, which is why the visual system is “retrainable” at any age. So even adults can still benefit from amblyopia treatments. That being said, the earlier you see your optometrist or eye doctor, the better.
Wearing Eyeglasses and an Eye Patch Is the Only Way
Glasses or contact lenses, as well as eye patches, have been used by ophthalmologists and optometrists to treat lazy eyes. Many treatments using these appliances have been successful.
However, whatever appliances are used, it’s important to include vision therapy in the treatment of amblyopia, as both eyes have to be trained to “respect” each other. With amblyopia, the stronger eye often makes the lazy eye weaker, so vision therapy should be a critical part of the treatment.
Amblyopia and Strabismus Are the Same
Not necessarily. Some cases of amblyopia can be traced back to strabismus or “crossed eyes”. Strabismus forces one or both eyes to turn in, out, up, or down.
However, amblyopia affects visual acuity, which refers to the clarity of sight. The lazy eye cannot see as clearly as the strong eye. A person can have a lazy eye and nobody would notice, but if they have strabismus, the crossed eye or eyes are easy to spot.
Do you or someone you know have an eye problem such as amblyopia? Get in touch with Vienna Eyecare Center. We also prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses for different visual needs. Call us now at (703) 938-7633 or message us here. We’re available in Vienna, Reston, and McLean, VA.