A "lazy eye" (amblyopia) is one or both eyes that turn inward or outward involuntarily. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed when it is first noticed. Some lazy eyes are the result of congenital problems (which can be caused by the mother smoking during pregnancy), others are the result of poor eye muscles.
Correction may involve glasses or patching, only your eye doctor will be able to determine the best way to treat this condition. Typically, a child has somewhere up to age 10 to have his/her vision corrected with patching or glasses. After that age, it will be too late. Surgery is a possibility; however, having surgery early, before growing is finished, will most likely mean more surgeries down the road because of growth.
The reason it is so important to catch a lazy eye as soon as possible, is that any vision information coming in from the lazy eye will be blocked (the brain cannot connect visual information coming from two different areas at one time) and only the good eye will be used. Surgery at this time will only be cosmetic. Surgery can turn the lazy eye to the front, but the brain has literally shut off that eye. If the child should experience an accident in which the good eye is lost (bbgun, car accident, sports injury, etc.) the brain will not be able to properly pick up the lazy eye and the person could become legally blind (meaning that even with glasses, they will not be able to see to drive or do other day-to-day things easily).
Another reason to have a lazy eye treated as early as possible (toddler age), is that our vision needs to have both eyes work together to give dimension to whatever they are looking at. When we look at something, our right eye sees an image and our left eye sees a slightly altered image. The brain work with the eyes and eye muscle to pull the two images together into one image. This is what gives us the ability to appreciate 3D technology. Seeing with only one eye, the person has a very difficult time judging distances, such as how far one item is from another.
Is patching fun? Not really; however Dr. Atkins works with the child to make patching as "painless" as possible. Sometimes just wearing a patch when not in school may be sufficient (so they are not made fun of). If the parent helps the child to make it something fun (you're going to be a pirate!), then the child will more likely accept the discipline of wearing a patch. TREATING AMBLYOPIA IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT CONDITIONS TO TREAT; primarily because the child believes they can see just as good, if not better, by not wearing their glasses. This is when the parent must be firm with the child and insist on full-time wearing of the glasses. If your child has been diagnosed with amblyopia, trust your doctor and don't let your child dictate when or if they will wear the glasses! It is for their best in the long run. Not correcting this condition may mean the child will be limited with education and employment as 3D technology continues to take over entertainment, and in the future, education and employment.
As stated above, sometimes just prescription glasses will correct the situation. With 3D technology, it is so important that children be able to use this technology and I'm sure that in future work environments, 3D will be used daily. Also with sports, a child has to be able to judge the distance between the bat and ball, hockey puck and stick, etc.
Please do not think that you can treat your child's lazy eye by buying a patch. This is a medical condition that must be diagnosed and treated properly! If you have any concerns about your child's vision, DON'T WAIT! Make an appointment today! Dr. Atkins will see children as young as 18 months. To understand how Dr. Atkins determines your child's vision, check out the tab on Kid's Vision.