Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, affects up to 5% of the population in the United States, and is the leading cause of monocular vision loss in childhood. Although the thought of your child losing their vision can be frightening, the eye condition has a good prognosis when children receive the right types of treatments. Since lazy eye treatments are typically performed on very young children, it is important to find a kid-friendly ophthalmologist who can provide you with several options for strengthening your child’s weaker eye.
Wearing Corrective Eyewear
In some cases, a refractive error can cause the weaker eye to shut off when it cannot achieve accurate vision. For these cases, wearing eyeglasses or contacts can correct the issue and encourage the weaker eye to focus better. Children who wear eyeglasses might also benefit from using a Bangerter filter that blurs the vision in the stronger eye to make the weaker one work harder.
Using an Eye Patch
Kids tend to respond to eye patches with either excitement or a bit of annoyance. This treatment option involves wearing a patch over the stronger eye so that the weaker one has to function. Usually, the patch only needs to be worn for a few hours each day to generate the desired effects without causing the stronger eye to weaken.
Blurring the Stronger Eye with Special Drops
If your child will not wear an eye patch, an eye doctor in Brooklyn, NY can offer an alternative solution. Eyedrops that contain a special medication called atropine have a temporary blurring effect on the eye that you place them in. Your eye doctor might prescribe the drops to be used just on the weekends or in the evenings when your child is out of school. They can cause some mild side effects, such as sensitivity to light, but they are beneficial for kids who cannot tolerate patching or eyewear.
Correcting Underlying Eye Conditions with Surgery
Certain underlying eye conditions could be impacting your child’s vision. Droopy eyelids or cataracts can block the eye’s ability to function, and these types of conditions will not go away on their own. During your child’s eye exam, their doctor can check to see if they have a physical cause for the lazy eye. If so, then surgery might be necessary to help your child achieve better vision in their weaker eye.
Children who receive treatment for lazy eye before they turn seven years of age have the best chances of a successful outcome, but even older teens can respond to treatments if there is a delay in their diagnosis. Ideally, children should be screened early in life for lazy eye, and experienced eye doctors can diagnose the condition in infants. If your child has lazy eye, working with your ophthalmologist to find treatments that they will comply with can help your child look forward to living a long life with better vision.