It can be difficult to tell if your son or daughter has a “lazy eye” – when one eye turns inward or outward more than the other. However, this is an issue you and your family eye doctor will want to watch out for, because if it is left untreated, a lazy eye can mean long-term problems for your child.
What causes a lazy eye?
The medical term for lazy eye is “amblyopia,” and it begins when one eye doesn’t see as well as the other eye because of a defective pathway between the brain and the weaker eye. The brain favors the stronger eye and the weaker eye gets used less and less. The lazy eye turns inward or outward and vision is decreased. The child may have poor depth perception and may tilt their head and/or squint in an effort to try and see better.
Lazy eye may be caused by a developmental disability, or it may be the result of your child being born prematurely. It can also run in families, so if there is a history of lazy eye in your family, you should make sure that your child sees an eye doctor before they are 3 years old.
Can lazy eye be treated?
Once it is diagnosed, there are a few different options to treat lazy eye. The idea is to make the weaker eye work harder – this can be done with glasses or contacts or even with the use of an eye patch. The eye patch may only have to be worn for a couple of hours a day, or it might have to be worn all day. For younger children, an eye patch may not be an option, as they might try to take it off; in this case, eye drops can be used in the stronger eye to blur the vision, which will make the brain depend on the weaker eye, which will strengthen it.
If you think your child may have a lazy eye, or even if it’s just time for eye exams for every member of the family, call the Eye Care Institute for an appointment. Call the office in Santa Rosa or Petaluma at (707) 546-9800.