Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)

Lazy eye, also called amblyopia, used to be considered to occur only in children. Now, eye specialists know that nearly 10 percent of the adult population has some form of the eye condition. Lazy eye treatment is available by trained lazy eye doctors at Eye Physicians in Downtown Manhattan. These best-rated optometristand ophthalmologist know the difference between amblyopia vs. strabismus. They provide you and your family with the most effective treatments. Call today for an appointment.

    What Is Lazy Eye?

    Lazy eye, technically called amblyopia, is a vision impairment that typically affects the eyes of small children, although you may need a lazy eye test if you’re an adult as well. While in most cases one of the eyes is affected, there are instances when both are compromised. Untreated amblyopia is the leading cause for vision loss in children. It’s estimated that in every 100 children, two to three need amblyopia treatment.

    Parents are urged to get comprehensive eye care for children as a preventive measure to catch the condition early on. Your Downtown Manhattan and NYC pediatric lazy eye doctor Optometrist may suggest the lazy eye test if the condition is suspected during the regular pediatric eye exam.

    At the New York City based Eye Physicians, optometrists routinely check for anomalies like color blindness, (Color Vision Deficiency) amblyopia and myokymia in addition to common conditions such as:

    Lazy Eye

    How Do I Get Lazy Eye?

    Normally, the brain receives images from both eyes, which are then combined to give you the complete picture. In the lazy eye, a malfunction occurs during the development of the child or later in life following trauma or some other kind of eye disease. Vision in one eye usually is normal, while the other eye is weak. This makes it harder for the brain to interpret the images. In time, the brain relies solely on the stronger eye for the complete picture, ignoring images from the weaker eye.

    Squinting, called strabismus, is a different eye condition that’s also marked by misaligned eyes. In amblyopia vs. strabismus, the brain ignores the images from the crooked or cross eye to avoid diplopia (double vision). This point is important in the discussion of amblyopia vs. strabismus as many assume both these eye conditions are the same. Strabismus causes strabismic amblyopia if not corrected, which is why it’s vital that you see an experienced lazy eye doctor in NYC to get the proper diagnosis and the best amblyopia treatment.

    The type of amblyopia you have depends on the underlying eye condition, which could include:

    • Refractive amblyopia, the most common type of amblyopia caused by refractive error conditions like myopia, farsightedness and astigmatism. The refraction eye exam helps differentiate between isometropia amblyopia where the prescription values are the same in both eyes and anisometropia where each eye has different prescription values.
    • Deprivation amblyopia, which is a rare, severe form of amblyopia where visual impediment prevents the light from reaching the retina. Conditions like congenital cataracts, droopy eyelid, and hemorrhaging in the eye  obstruct the visual axis, while conditions like epiblepharon cause cornea scarring that distorts the vision.
    • Occlusion amblyopia, another extremely rare, reversible form of amblyopia where the stronger eye becomes weak during eye treatment for another disorder.
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    Who Can Get Lazy Eye?

    The World Health Organization estimates that 12 million children younger than 15 have lost their vision due to unchecked refractive amblyopia. Children under the age of seven are at high risk as their vision is still under development. About 90 percent of amblyopia cases are because of strabismus or refractive errors that weren’t treated.

    Additional risk factors associated with children include:

    • If the baby is born prematurely, then the vision development process could have been impaired.
    • The birth weight of the infant is also a risk factor as smaller babies tend to be more susceptible to the condition.
    • Genetics also plays a role, especially if you have family history for amblyopia or any of the underlying eye conditions like cataracts or droopy eyelid.

    Additionally, developmental disabilities like Down Syndrome, DiGeorge Syndrome and Williams Syndrome also put you and your children at risk. Children with Noonan syndrome have a 32 percent chance of needing lazy eye treatment. In the nearly five percent of adults in the U.S. with a lazy eye, most are due to untreated medical conditions and eye damage.

    What Are Lazy Eye Symptoms?

    Unlike strabismus where crooked eyes are noticeable, amblyopia isn’t noticeable. The only way you learn you have amblyopia is when you get an eye exam. Test But by then, it may be too late to get back your lost vision.

    As there is no clear indication on the eyes for amblyopia, parents need to be extra vigilant to notice certain behaviors that hint at the need for how to fix a lazy eye, such as:

    • An eye that wanders or doesn’t align with the other eye, indicating potential strabismus
    • Squinting or shutting an eye, especially in bright light or when focusing on distant objects
    • Head tilting or turning to favor one eye, which may suggest discomfort or difficulty with binocular vision
    • Poor depth perception, manifesting as clumsiness or difficulty in grasping objects and navigating spaces
    • Avoidance of activities that require detailed vision, such as reading or engaging in sports, which could be a sign of visual discomfort or difficulty

    What Are Ways for How to Fix a Lazy Eye?

    The mainstay for lazy eye treatment is correcting the underlying cause and to encourage the use of the weaker eye. The first treatment involves astigmatism correction involving corrective glasses or contact lenses. About 27 percent of refractive amblyopia cases are resolved using this method, while those with strabismus amblyopia show significant improvement in vision.

    If the glasses don’t work, you may need other forms of lazy eye treatment such as:

    • Patching. This method involves placing an eye patch over the stronger eye and training the brain to see through the weaker eye.
    • Atropine. These are eye drops used to modify the vision of the stronger eye, so that it appears weaker than the actual weak eye. This way the brain is forced to use the images from the weak eye for vision.
    • Lazy eye surgery. Conditions like strabismus, cataracts, droopy eyelid, or corneal scars need lazy eye surgery before atropine eye drops and vision therapy work.
    • Vision therapy. This involves eye exercises to retrain the brain into thinking both eyes are normal.
    • Combination Therapy. Sometimes, a combination of these treatments may be used to achieve the best results in treating lazy eye.

    It’s important to consult with an eye care professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for lazy eye based on individual needs and the underlying causes of the condition. Early intervention is key to maximizing the effectiveness of treatment.

    Research also shows that video games and virtual reality devices motivate children and adults to practice eye exercises longer, which is a revolutionary breakthrough that brings hope to the two to four percent of Americans living with amblyopia. Contact Eye Physicians in NYC today to get you and your children a lazy eye test and all other types of eye tests that keep your vision healthy and working well.

    Page Updated on Jul 2, 2024 by Dr. William Hogue, OD (Optometrist) of Eye Physicians
    William Hogue, OD

    My name is Dr. William Hogue, and I am an optometrist dedicated to providing top-quality professional eye care. I'm trained in treating various ocular conditions, including dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, and retinal issues.

    I earned my chemistry degree summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee. Subsequently, I obtained my Doctorate of Optometry (OD) and Master of Science (MS) from the New England College of Optometry. Following graduation, I completed an ocular disease residency at the State University of New York’s College of Optometry. Beyond my clinical work, I have also been a supporter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH).

    More about Dr. Hogue

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    110 Lafayette St, Suite 503
    New York, NY 10013
    (212) 292-4814

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