Lazy eye in kids—called amblyopia in the medical field—can have a serious impact on their way of life. Bullying, struggling to read and write, and difficulty in sports are just a few key areas that this condition can affect.
As a clinic specializing in pediatric ophthalmology, we see and treat this disorder often. We can see the hardships amblyopia causes in children and utilize our experience to help them live normal, happy lives.
Empathizing with a child who has a lazy eye can only go on for so long. Eventually, the child wants answers. We have spoken to many ailing parents who wonder how they can help and love to see the joy in the faces of Parent and Child after successful treatment.
But before we treat, we like to give information behind the stigma of lazy eye in kids.
What is Amblyopia?
Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a condition that develops when there is a change in nerve pathways. Your child’s eye only absorbs images and signals sent by one eye.
The cause of this typically stems from a factor that occurred at birth or developed later on in life, such as:
• Eye misalignment. This includes eyes that cross, drift in and out, or otherwise show unusual motions. As a result, your child might experience double vision.
• Cataracts. If your child has a cataract in one eye, that eye will suffer from cloudy vision. Their brain can begin to ignore signals and images from the blurry eye. Droopy eyelids can have a similar effect.
• Uneven prescriptions. The child might have two very different prescriptions for each eye. The eye with the higher prescription typically becomes the weaker one, leading to lazy eye problems.
The issue may not be noticeable at first, but as the child ages and their body grows, the affected eye is being deprived.
Without proper light and signals being sent from the affected eye to the brain, the eye is prevented from normal development. The issue continues to progress, which is why early detection and treatment are essential.
Effects of Lazy Eye in Kids
As your child grows and their lazy eye progresses, more severe risks come into play. Without proper treatment, issues with your child’s vision could mount and, in severe cases, could lead to loss of vision as an adult.
If you see any of the following in your child, they may need to seek treatment as soon as possible:
• Rubbing of one eye
• Poor depth perception (they cannot easily tell you how close or far an object or person is)
• Problems with reading, writing, or arithmetic
• Head tilting
Lazy eye in kids can also be identified through visual indications from a parent, as well. These include a wandering eye or misaligned eyes that don’t seem to work together.
Vision tests such as photoscreenings are conducted on your child as a method of diagnosing amblyopia. These tests consist of cameras and flashes and are designed to look for focusing problems that could indicate the child is not seeing properly.
Once diagnosed, lazy eye in kids can be treated in several ways. An eye doctor’s first step is usually to treat any vision problems with glasses or contact lenses.
The next step is to train the brain to use the lazy eye. The least invasive methods are patch therapy or eye drop medications. Placing a patch over the stronger eye forces the brain to make use of the weaker one. Similarly, using eye drops in the stronger eye temporary blurs its vision and obliges the brain to rely on the lazy eye.
In severe cases, surgery would need to be performed to remove cataracts or correct muscle imbalances. As pediatric ophthalmologists, we have had to perform numerous surgeries. While this path may seem scary to many parents and their children, the joy we see after the recovery makes it all worthwhile.
Catch the Signs Early to Prevent Further Damage
Lazy eye in kids progresses into worse problems with vision. If your child is having difficulty concentrating, trouble in school, or has visual signs indicating amblyopia, contact us online or call us at (305) 456-7035. Our pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Zenia P. Aguilera, has 25 years of experience providing patients with everything from routine eye care to major surgery.