What are the causes of lazy eye?
A squint (strabismus): This is the most common cause and it means that the eyes are not parallel when they focus on an object. You will notice that each eye looks in a different direction and the child will experience double or blurred vision. They will unconsciously supress the image from one eye causing it to become lazy.
Some squints will not be obvious and need to be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist.
Poor vision in one eye (refractive error): If the vision in one eye is stronger than the other, a child will use the good eye and suppress the image from the weaker eye.
This can be corrected with glasses but often requires further treatment to correct the amblyopia.
Organic disease: An example of this would be an eye tumour. Serious cases like this are rare, but they underline the importance of eye exams for young children.
What are the symptoms of a lazy eye?
Your child may be unware that he or she has defective vision.
Here are the main symptoms you should watch out for:
- Excessive eye rubbing
- Closing or covering an eye when looking at an object
- Tilting the head forward when focussing the eyes
- Blinking more than usual
- Tripping over small objects
- Holding a book very close to the eyes
- Refusing to take part in games that require distance vision
- Squinting and frowning excessively
- Involuntary turning in or out of one or both eyes
What treatments are available?
There are four main treatment options for lazy eye, which include:
- The most widely used is “patching” or covering the good eye to force the patient to use the amblyopic eye. Patching alone is a very successful treatment for children.
- In some cases glasses are prescribed to correct refractive errors.
- Muscle surgery may be necessary to correct an out-of-line amblyopic eye.
- Orthoptic therapy is a series of exercises that encourage the eyes to work as a team. This therapy is most effective on children under the age of 7, but can work well with patients of any age.