Scientific research has provided many beneficial breakthroughs in the way we understand and treat a lazy eye.
Approximately 2-3% of American children have amblyopia, which is the medical term for a lazy eye. It is the main cause of loss of vision in children in one eye. Amblyopia is a condition that occurs when the eyes are not working together properly as a team along with the brain. Each eye is receiving its own image which is not coordinated with the other so in order to cope, the brain shuts off communication with one eye, nicknamed the ‘lazy eye’ by suppressing it. Clear vision is achieved by the other, stronger eye as the lazy eye cannot achieve 20/20 vision, even with an optical correction.
It is important to understand what the standard method of treating a lazy eye used to be. The approach was generally to promote as much patching as possible. Patching means to close off the strong eye in order to force the lazy eye to step up and communicate with the brain in order to achieve clear vision. In addition, it was believed that patching was no longer effective after the critical time period of development, which is somewhere between the ages of six and nine so there was a rush to begin patching as early as possible. In addition to patching, it’s important to also provide an accurate optical correction. Since there used to be value to patching as early as possible, the patient would receive the appropriate optical correction and begin patching as soon as possible, often simultaneously.
A group of optometrists and ophthalmologists, known as the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) are funded by the National Eye Institute to do clinical research on various pediatric eye conditions. Most of their research has focused on treatment for amblyopia in children and adolescents and comparing various methods to find the most effective strategy. These studies have come to be known as the Amblyopia Treatment Studies (ATS) which have greatly improved the way that eye care health providers are treating a lazy eye.
The results of the ATS research have made a huge impact on how we treat amblyopia today. There are different elements to the overall treatment which will be discussed in further detail below.
Research has shown that approximately 20% of children who complete treatment for a lazy eye, will have the condition return. Therefore, it’s very important that even after treatment is completed, the patient is scheduled for follow up appointments to ensure proper monitoring.
In order to reduce the likelihood of recurring amblyopia, it is essential to provide the proper plan for ending treatment. Instead of abruptly ending the treatment, it is beneficial to progressively end by tapering down the treatment method.
If you have any questions regarding a lazy eye, please don’t hesitate to call (423) 710 3965 to schedule a consultation at our office, Amplify EyeCare Chattanooga. Dr. Heather McBryar and staff have a lot of experience diagnosing and treating a wide range of eye conditions and will be happy to discuss and answer any questions you have.