I often hear patients say they have “lazy eyes.” To them, that means different things. It is commonly referred to when one eyelid is lower than another (ptosis). It is also referred to when one eye turns or crosses (strabismus). The real definition of lazy-eyes is when one eye does not see equal to the other (amblyopia). Sometimes lazy eyes occurs during development before birth and other times it result from having crossed eyes, the need for prescription eye glasses early in life, or an eye disease at an early age. If undetected, it can result in permanent legal blindness. About 3% of the population has amblyopia.
In early childhood, the signs of amblyopia can only be determined by careful examination of a child’s eyes. From birth thru 6 months of age, the pediatrician checks the eyes to make sure that normal visual development is occurring. If problems are suspected prior to age 6 months, the child can have a complete eye examination. After age 6 months, the child can be seen by an Optometrist on a regular basis to ensure that proper development continues and no eye disease or need for glasses is present. Parents most times do not know their child has amblyopia, so it is always advised that the child’s eyes are closely monitored during the first 6 years of life.
When the child is old enough to talk, it is easier to elicit if there are visual problems and therefore amblyopia treatment can be implemented. Once the child is 12, if amblyopia has developed it may be more difficult to completely correct. Vision therapy may be required to strengthen the vision in the weaker eye. If glasses are required, the child’s vision may improve by giving the correct prescription. Or, if the eyes do turn in or out, surgery or patching the eyes may be the way to resolve the problem.
If left untreated amblyopia will not go away on its own. It will result in permanent visual problems and poor depth perception. Early treatment for amblyopia can prevent this from occurring.
If you know someone with true “lazy eyes”, make sure they have their eyes checked early. Amblyopia can also be inherited, so if you have lazy eyes, make sure your children are checked and monitored closely from birth.
I am Dr. Parker and I evaluate and treat patient with developmental visual problems such as amblyopia (lazy eyes).
I invite you to visit EnVision Eye Care, 321 W. Montgomery Crossroads, if you are in need of an eye care provider.
For appointments, call (912) 927-0707 and visit us at www.envisionsavannah.com