The lazy eye syndrome or amblyopia is a common condition that develops from early childhood. While the eye may appear normal, the vision is impaired. In most cases, decreased vision is noticed among children and young adults. It is seen in two to three out of every 100 cases. Amblyopia is a difficult condition to treat once the child has crossed the age of 7 years. Hence, it is important to have complete eye tests done at an earlier age if any problem with the eyesight is noticed.
According to Rajesh R, Consultant-Oncology & Vitreo Retina, Sankara Eye Hospital, “In some cases, the child’s eyes turn in or out and don’t line up as they should. This non-alignment leads to an inability in focusing on an object and the child often sees things doubled. In some other cases, the child is unable to see well due to something blocking the light from getting through. This could be a clot of blood or a cataract. Any of the above reasons could lead to amblyopia.”
There are three types of amblyopia, explains Rajesh R:
- Strabismic amblyopia, when one eye may turn in or out, up or down.
- Deprivation amblyopia, in which the child is deprived of the visual experience due to a blockage that prevents light from getting through. This blockage may be in the form of cataracts or similar blockage/s.
- Refractive amblyopia, where one eye is more in need of visual assistance like glasses as compared to the other eye. It results in blurry vision and can affect both the eyes in some cases.
When diagnosing amblyopia, he advises that it is critical to check for the following conditions:
- Vision in both eyes should be fine.
- There should not be any blockage for light getting through to the eyes.
- Both the eyes should move equally well.
In case if any discrepancy is seen, an eye specialist should be consulted. For children, it is advisable to have a thorough eye check-up at least once a year.
In order to treat the lazy eye, it is important to have the brain start using the affected eye more than usual. The ophthalmologist will first correct the underlying problems of sight. In order to improve focus, some kids need glasses. If a cataract is blocking the passage of light, a cataract surgery may be required.
The doctor may advise covering the normal eye with a patch. At the outset, it will be difficult to properly see through the affected eye but eventually, it will help improve and restore vision. This process may take a long time, sometimes even years, adds Dr Rajesh R.
The doctor’s advice is to be religiously followed and regular check-ups should be done. Once the vision becomes near normal in the affected eye, the patch can be removed. In some cases, the doctor prescribes the use of an eye drop that helps blur the vision in the normal eye and thus avoiding patching of the eye.