Amblyopia – also known as lazy eye – is an eye condition that isn’t caused by an underlying disease. Usually, it only impacts one eye. However, there are some patients that have amblyopia in both eyes.
Adults with the condition often experience reduced vision that isn’t always correctable with glasses or contact lenses. Typically, the vision loss is due to how the brain treats input from the amblyopic eye or eyes. Instead of fully acknowledging the visual stimuli, the brain seemingly ignores the visuals. While the eye may also point inward or outward, the physical misalignment isn’t the source of the vision reduction.
Signs of Amblyopia
Certain symptoms are common with amblyopia. One or both eyes may wander inward or outward, or both eyes may not seem to be working together. Depth perception tends to be poor, and a person with amblyopia may squint or shut one eye to achieve greater visual acuity. Head tilting when examining an object is also a possible sign, along with frequent eye strain, eye fatigue, or headaches.
In many cases, amblyopia is detectable during a vision screening as well. Since eye exams look at visual acuity in a variety of scenarios, the visual acuity reduction can typically be identified.
Typical Causes of Amblyopia
One of the most common causes of amblyopia is strabismus, a condition where one eye is turned, preventing proper alignment between both eyes. Another potential source of lazy eye is anisometropia, where each eye has different levels of visual acuity. Trauma and eye blockage (such as a drooping eyelid) may also cause amblyopia.
The reason these conditions can lead to amblyopia is the difference in visual capability. If one eye is capable of seeing clearly, but the other isn’t, the brain suppresses the information that is coming from the latter eye. That processing change can result in permanent vision loss.
Treatment for Amblyopia
Many people believe that amblyopia is only treatable in children, often those who are 12 years of age or younger. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. While every patient is different, some adults can see results from amblyopia treatment.
Typically, eye patching or drops alone isn’t sufficient. While this may increase the visual acuity of the amblyopic eye, the approach isn’t guaranteed to result in better binocular vision (when both eyes work together). Without training to learn how to combine visuals from both eyes simultaneously, the overall results tend to be lackluster and don’t often stand the test of time.
Luckily, there are other treatment options. Optometric vision therapy can help patients by engaging their eyes during activities that require binocular vision and encompass all distances (far, middle, and near).
Essentially, the amblyopic eye undergoes physical therapy in conjunction with the healthy eye. And, in many cases, the visual acuity improvements can be substantial.
There isn’t technically a surgery to correct amblyopia. However, if another condition is involved, such as strabismus, then surgical correction of that condition may be necessary. That way, it will be easier to train both eyes to work together.
If you have amblyopia and are looking for treatment options, schedule an appointment at your nearest ECVA clinic today. Our talented team works diligently to ensure your eye health, performing thorough exams to identify any issues that may need correcting. We can design treatment options to meet your unique needs, providing the best outcome possible.