“Lazy Eye”, formally known as Amblyopia, is a condition that affects up to 5% of kids and means that kids are only seeing well out of one eye. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness. The signs aren’t always obvious and parents often have no idea it’s happening to their child.
Lazy Eye has as much to do with the brain as the eye: The brain can’t merge the images it receives from BOTH eyes into a single clear 3-D picture, so it starts ignoring input from the weaker eye. In the early years of life, the brain learns how to use the eyes, so if the problem isn’t detected by about age 7, it can become permanent. The more quickly Amblyopia is detected and treated, the more quickly it responds to treatment.
What causes Amblyopia?
When the eyes have a different prescription – one eye sees better than the other causing difficulty focusing
When you have a crossed or wandering eye – the eyes have difficulty aligning
When one or both eyes have an underlying health issue
What is the treatment for Amblyopia?
Amblyopia (or Lazy Eye) is treated by strengthening the connection between the brain and the “bad” eye. In mild cases, it can be done by helping bad eye to focus through glasses. In more severe cases the good eye is patched which forces the weaker eye to take over. With time, the brain will learn to use both eyes properly again. For some kids, this process takes a few months, and for others it may take significantly more time. Vision therapy is also prescribed in certain cases to help the child strengthen and train their eye muscles to work together. This can be done through vision exercises and by doing everyday activities (like school work, video games etc.) with the stronger eye patched.
So what should you do as a parent?
The NUMBER ONE thing you can do as a parent to ensure that your child’s eyes are healthy, seeing well and working well together is to SEE AN OPTOMETRIST as early on in life as possible. Don’t wait for your child’s teacher to notice a vision problem in the classroom…take your kids to see an eye doctor starting at 6 months of age and annually thereafter.
Milton Optometry recommends that children have a comprehensive eye exam annually starting at 6 months of age. We welcome infants, toddlers and children of all ages to our family-friendly office! Visit www.miltonoptometry.ca or phone 905-636-9500 to reserve an appointment for your family.
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