Lazy Eye: How to Fix It

Lazy eye (amblyopia) is a type of poor vision that affects only one eye.

It happens when the brain and the eye don’t operate together properly, and the brain can’t recognise the sight from one eye.

Thus, the brain becomes increasingly reliant on the other, stronger eye over time, while vision in the weaker eye deteriorates.

This condition is dubbed “lazy eye” as the dominant eye works better, while the weaker eye “wanders” in different directions.

However, there is nothing lazy about people with amblyopia!  They have no control over how their eyes work.

Keep on reading to find out more about what exactly lazy eye is and how to treat it!

What is lazy eye?

The term “lazy eye” refers to an eye that drifts or is misaligned.

A lazy eye usually impacts the visual acuity of the eye.  This results in blurry vision, which contributes to poor depth perception and binocular vision.

Did you know that a lazy eye and a crossed eye are different?

However, strabismus (crossed eyes) can lead to lazy eye if your crossed eye is used less than your uncrossed eye!

What are the symptoms of lazy eye?

Signs You May Have Lazy Eye

Many people with lazy eyes, especially those who only have a mild form, are not aware they have the condition until they are tested at older ages, since the vision in their stronger eye is usually normal.

Thus, lazy eye can be difficult to notice until it is severe. The following are early warning signs:

  • a tendency to bump into objects on one particular side
  • an eye that wanders inward or outward
  • both eyes may not appear to work together
  • poor depth perception
  • double vision
  • squinting or closing one eye to see better
  • frequent eye strain, eye fatigue, or headaches

Amblyopia symptoms can lead to major vision issues, such as:

  • Quick loss of visual acuity when the affected eye is left untreated
  • Binocular vision loss, resulting in difficulty to judge depth.
  • Increased risk of vision loss for the dominant eye because vision problems that affect both eyes usually damage the stronger eye first.

If your child’s eye wanders after the first few weeks of life, take them to the doctor immediately. A vision check is extremely crucial if you have a family history of crossed eyes, childhood cataracts, or other eye disorders.

Other risk factors include:

  • Being born prematurely
  • Being smaller than average at birth
  • Having developmental disorders

Aside from that, all young children between the critical period of 3 and 5 years old should have a full vision screening.

What causes lazy eye?

Amblyopia is linked to issues with brain development. In this scenario, amblyopia occurs when the visual system in your brain isn’t working properly.

When your eyes don’t get the same amount of use, this malfunction occurs.

Strabismus

Strabismus is the most common cause of this.

When the eye muscles cannot properly align the eyes, the brain receives a different image from each eye, especially during development in early childhood.

The brain clears up the misunderstanding by systematically disregarding one of the images. However, the weaker eye remains underutilised as the brain relies on one eye, and the corresponding brain area is underdeveloped.

Aside from strabismus, certain eye conditions can also cause lazy eye.

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors can lead to lazy eye if left untreated.

Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are examples of typical visual impairments which cause blurry vision.

This also creates mismatched input, which causes the brain to reject input from the weak eye.

Typically, these issues can be easily solved with contact lenses and corrective lenses. However, if they aren’t corrected, the brain may rely on the eye for better vision.

This type of lazy eye caused by refractive errors is called refractive amblyopia.

Deprivation

Amblyopia can be caused by anything that causes a visual imbalance:

  • damage to one of your eyes from trauma
  • drooping of one of your eyelids
  • corneal ulcer or scar
  • eye surgery
  • glaucoma, which is high pressure in your eye that can lead to vision problems and blindness
  • childhood cataracts
  • cloudy eyeglass lens

To avoid permanent vision loss, deprivation amblyopia in children must be treated immediately. It’s the most common and severe form of amblyopia.

How is lazy eye diagnosed?

Eye exam for lazy eye

Amblyopia normally affects only one eye at a time.

Parents and children are frequently unaware of the disease when it initially appears.

Even if you don’t have any apparent symptoms of eye problems, it’s crucial to receive routine eye exams as an infant or toddler.

According to academic research institutions, it is recommended that children should have their eyes examined at ages 6 months and 3 years. After that, children should get routine exams every two years or more frequently.

Early diagnosis is imperative to ensure that lazy eye is treated before decreased vision and other eye complications occur.

Regardless of your age, your eye doctor will perform a normal eye exam to test your eyesight in both eyes. This entails a series of tests, such as:

  • identifying letters or shapes on a chart
  • following a light with each eye
  • having your doctor examine both of your eyes with a magnifying device

Your doctor will check your vision clarity, eye muscle strength, and how well your eyes focus, among other things.

They’ll also be looking for a wandering eye or vision discrepancies between your eyes.

Usually, an eye examination is all that is required for the majority of lazy eye diagnoses.

Is there a lazy eye treatment?

For many years, it was thought that amblyopia could only be treated in young children, usually those aged 10 or less.

You may have thought this yourself too!

While treatment is most effective at a young age, retraining the visual system, restoring binocular vision, and correcting amblyopia can be done at any age, including in adults.

The most effective technique to treat amblyopia is to treat the underlying eye disorders. That means you must assist your damaged eye in developing normally.

There are two steps in any lazy eye treatment. The first is to correct vision.

Step 1: Correcting any Vision Problems

Correct vision problems with contact lenses before treating lazy eye

First and foremost, eye disorders such as cataracts and refractive errors must be addressed.

It’s often as simple as prescribing corrective lenses or contact lenses. Meanwhile, in the case of cataracts, it would be to undergo cataracts surgery.

Sometimes, severely blurred vision may require refractive surgery to correct.

You may have heard of the most common form – LASIK!

Step 2: Retraining the Weaker Eye

Eye Patching

Eye patches are an adorable treatment for lazy eye in children

An eye patch worn over your dominant eye can aid in the strengthening of your weaker eye. Eye patching aids in the development of the part of your brain that handles vision.

Depending on the severity of your lazy eye, your eye doctor may recommend that you wear the patch for 1 to 2 hours each day. Some patients may need to wear it whenever they’re awake!

Atropine Eye Drops

Eye drops for lazy eye

Putting special eye drops to obscure your vision in your dominant eye is another method.

This encourages you to utilise your weaker eye more, similar to an eye patch.

The once-a-day drop of the drug atropine works by temporarily blurring near vision, which forces the brain to use the other eye.

Vision Therapy

Lazy eye can be effectively treated with vision therapy.

The two eyes will be trained to function together to obtain clear and comfortable binocular vision.

Vision therapy aims to retrain your visual system and has dramatically improved the lazy eye’s visual skills.

This is done by improving these visual skills:

  • Accommodation (focusing)
  • Fixation (visual gaze)
  • Pursuits (eye-tracking)
  • Saccades (switching eye focus, “eye jumps”)
  • Spatial skills (eye-hand coordination)
  • Stereopsis (3-D vision)

Regular eye check-ups are an important part of eye care.

Everyone needs a regular eye exam. It helps protect your sight and lets you see your best.

If you are worried that you or your child are facing symptoms of lazy eye, head on over to Your Eye Guardian!

We’re ready to help you with any vision problems you may have.

Make your appointment now! After all, you can’t put a price on your eye health.