At Mountainview Vision Therapy, we treat a variety of common eye conditions. As the leading cause of vision loss in children, amblyopia (also referred to as a lazy eye) is serious, and treatment to correct it should begin as early as possible.
What is Amblyopia?
There are three types of amblyopia. Strabismic amblyopia occurs when the eyes do not align properly from infancy. Under normal circumstances if the eyes are not aligned, double vision results. However, because of the young adaptable brain, most children will learn to suppress vision from one eye. When suppression occurs, the brain ignores the transmitted image from that eye. Because the eye is not being used, proper vision does not develop and amblyopia results.
Refractive amblyopia is the result of different degrees of refractive error (which indicates the need for a glasses prescription) in each eye. Similar to strabismic amblyopia, the difference in prescription need between the two eyes does not allow the two eyes to work together, so one of the visual signals becomes suppressed and proper vision does not develop. This type of amblyopia is often not noticeable unless discovered during an eye exam.
Deprivational amblyopia occurs when vision is blocked altogether in one or both eyes. This can occur due to a congenital cataract, droopy eyelid, or other obstruction to the vision of the eye occurring in infancy or early childhood. Again, because the child has not had the experience of clear vision, the nerve pathways that provide clear vision do not develop. This can be one of the most devastating types of amblyopia and is often one of the most difficult to treat.
How To Treat Amblyopia
The mainstay of treatment for many years has been to patch the “good” eye to push the amblyopic or “poorer-seeing” eye to develop. While patching is still often very necessary and a part of our treatment, new research shows that outcomes are more complete and long lasting when focusing on the underlying problem. Helping the brain to use both eyes together is why amblyopia developed in the first place; and therefore, teaching the eyes to work together as a team is more effective than simply isolating the amblyopic eye through patching alone.
In vision therapy, we use the latest in 3D technology and employ a host of activities specially designed to help the two eyes to learn to work together, thus improving the vision of the poorer-seeing eye while improving depth perception. This approach has shown to be more long lasting than patching alone and has the added benefit of helping patients navigate their surroundings safer and more comfortably.
For extremely young children who may require patching, but have difficulty wearing an eye patch, other options include prescribing a low concentration of atropine eye drops. These eye drops may have side effects that must be considered before use.
The vision professionals at Mountainview Vision Therapy can diagnose and effectively treat amblyopia and other eye conditions safely and efficiently. Our staff can answer all of your questions concerning amblyopia and offer treatment plans capable of improving vision and reducing visual discomfort. Call Mountainview Vision Therapy today at 509-972-6688.