"Lazy Eye" is a term commonly used to describe both Amblyopia and Strabismus. Although these two conditions are different from each other, both reflect that a child is not undergoing normal visual development.
In both of these instances, parents are anxious for their children. They have two very serious concerns:
Will my child ever be able to see normally?
Will my child's eyes ever be straight?
Amblyopia is developmental form of vision loss. It is caused whenever there is either an eye turn, a high prescription, or a blockage of light (such as from a cataract) during infancy / early toddlerhood, and this issue affects the child's ability to develop using both eyes together at the exact same time.
Children with amblyopia are often not found until they enter school, after they fail a vision screening done by the nurse. This condition is easy to miss because the child effectively grows up favoring one eye and ignoring the eye with amblyopia. Interestingly, even with glasses or contact lenses, a child can still have amblyopia.
Some symptoms that might indicate a problem exists include:
Reduced eyesight in one or both eyes of varying degrees
Covering or squinting one eye more than the other
Poor depth perception, trouble with judging the space around them
Poor eye hand coordination which may affect sports performance
Trouble with body coordination, tripping and being accident prone
Difficulty with learning and school performance
Strabismus is commonly referred to as a “crossed eye” or “wandering eye.” It is a condition in which a person is unable to align both eyes simultaneously. This is much more obvious to see than amblyopia, and the earlier the condition shows up, the larger the size of the eye-turn. These children often see an eye-specialist as soon as the condition is present because the parents easily observe the misaligned eyes.
When the eyes are unable to align properly there is an increased risk of also developing amblyopia (lazy eye). If left untreated, strabismus can negatively effect one's overall development (strabismic children are often clumsy and poorly coordinated) and it will impact their self-esteem as they go through school and socialize with others.
Common symptoms include:
Easily visible eye misalignment, whether there is an eye pointing inwards, outwards, or higher / lower than the other
Squinting, closing one eye often
Hearing complaints about doubled vision or shadowy/overlapping vision
Poor sports performance, cannot catch a ball, trouble learning to ride a bicycle
Difficulty with school performance
Reduced reading fluency
The common treatments for amblyopia include patching one eye for several hours a day and using atropine eye drops. Research shows that these treatments often produce poor (or marginal) results due to poor compliance, and then any gained improvements tends to regress once the treatment is discontinued. The reason these treatments do not work as desired is because they discourage the development of binocular vision. These treatments reinforce using one eye versus the other. As long as the brain is not able to use both eyes at the same time, these conditions will always exist.
Furthermore, children who wear an eye patch, particularly if they wear it while at school, are self-conscious and feel frustrated, anxious, angry, and run the risk of being bullied. This continues the poor compliance, and therefore, poor results.
The common treatment for strabismus is eye-muscle surgery. While this treatment does put the eyes into alignment, in the majority of cases the straight eyes do not last. We have heard from some parents that their ophthalmologist advised that their child would likely undergo 4-5 eye-muscle surgeries in their lifetime. The reason these results do not last is because strabismus is a visual development problem and not an eye muscle problem.
Our advanced treatments eliminate the need for extended eye patching or disruptive eye drops while at school. Through optometric vision therapy, we can simultaneously treat both eyes and promote the proper visual development necessary to overcome these issues.
In vision therapy, we provide guided vision development through using specific activities, techniques, and tools. This guided development teaches a child to use both eyes simultaneously and control them as intended.
This creates results that are longer-lasting and that positively impact their quality of life.
Don't let strabismus or amblyopia hold you or your child back. At Texas Vision Therapy, we are dedicated to helping you overcome these challenges and achieve your full potential.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn about how we can give you or your child the gift of clear and confident vision.