Think You Could Spot a Lazy Eye on Your Child?
Lazy eye, known to doctors as amblyopia, is a condition that affects nearly 3 percent of the population. This may not sound like much, but it translates to over 200,000 new cases each year. Amblyopia typically occurs in childhood, a time of intense development that forms the foundation of a person’s life. When a child doesn’t see well, we need to have ways of recognizing their struggle. When it comes to lazy eye, the signs may not be as obvious as you think.
What makes an eye “lazy”?
Vision only starts in the eyes. First, light passes through the lens and the cornea at the front of the eye. These structures focus rays of light to hit the retina, a collection of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye. Here, these cells trigger impulses in the optic nerve. Impulses travel through the nerve and into the brain for interpretation. This is the process through which a visual image is formed. An eye is not naturally “lazy;” we use this term when the brain ignores signals from one eye due to some type of disruption.
Amblyopia May Not Look Like You Expect
When we hear that an eye is “lazy,” many of us naturally imagine an eye that doesn’t track with the other. When one eye is looking straight ahead, the other is wandering inward or outward. Is this your perception of a lazy eye? It’s only partially correct.
A wandering lazy eye is caused by a condition called strabismus. Strabismic amblyopia happens to be the most common type. In response to the physical misalignment of the eyes (due to muscle weakness), the brain favors one eye over the other. The favoring of one eye does not cause or worsen the physical misalignment but it does affect vision.
A lazy eye does not have to be a wandering eye. This is an important point because it means that amblyopia can be physically unnoticeable. One reason that an eye can become lazy is that there is a severe refractive error. Both eyes may have a refractive error, with one eye being much worse. As a result, the brain will ignore the dysfunctional nerve impulses from one eye. Another potential reason for one eye being lazy is referred to as deprivation amblyopia. This condition occurs when a congenital cataract blocks light from reaching the retina.
Treating a Lazy Eye
Amblyopia can be treated at any time. Ideally, the problem is recognized and corrected in childhood. This may involve surgery to strengthen the muscles around the eye or patching the stronger eye as a way to strengthen weak vision.
Learn more about diagnosing and treating a lazy eye. Call (713) 473-5715 to schedule a visit to Pasadena Eye Associates in Pasadena, TX.