Does My Child Have a Lazy Eye?

By Eye Institute of Houston
April 15, 2020

The term lazy eye is the best way that we have to describe the condition called amblyopia. This problem affects up to 5 percent of American children and can have long-lasting ramifications if not addressed as early in life as possible. If your child exhibits signs of having a lazy eye, you may wonder what you should do. Let’s talk about that here.

What Makes an Eye Lazy?

For vision to form, light has to pass through the eye and land on the retina. From the retina, light is transferred to the brain, where signals are interpreted into images. Lazy eye indicates that signals are only being transferred to the brain from one eye. In the other eye, the nerve pathways between the eye and the brain are disrupted by some type of abnormality. 

Underlying Causes for Amblyopia

Amblyopia may develop for a few different reasons. The type of amblyopia that is diagnosed relates to this cause.

  • Eye misalignment, called strabismus, is the most common reason for amblyopia. This may be present at birth or may become apparent as the eyes develop during infancy. Strabismus prevents the eyes from tracking together. One eye wanders to one side or the other, which weakens the vision in that eye. 
  • Discrepancies in visual acuity are referred to as refractive amblyopia. This problem involves high astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness in one eye, resulting in loss of visual sharpness and uniform vision. 
  • Deprivation of light, which usually results from congenital cataracts, can prevent the development of one eye. The deprived eye then becomes lazy. For vision to continue to progress, congenital cataracts and resulting amblyopia must be treated promptly. 

Treating Amblyopia

Ideally, a treatment plan for amblyopia will be developed right away after an accurate diagnosis has been made. Prompt treatment increases the successful restoration and preservation of long-term vision. The objective of treatment is to strengthen the vision in the poorly-developed eye. Conservatively, this is achieved by forcing the brain to utilize that eye. This is similar to toning muscles through exercise. In more severe cases of misalignment, surgery may be needed to strengthen the muscles in the weak eye.

The good news about amblyopia is that this condition is very treatable, especially in young children. If your child is showing signs of a lazy eye, schedule a comprehensive eye exam in our Houston office. Call (713) 668-7337.

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