Growing children are commonly afflicted with lazy eye or amblyopia. This gives the right and left eye different qualities of vision. One eye may produce weak or distorted images compared to the other eye. Over a period of time, the brain learns to ignore the weaker images from the weaker eye and accept images from the stronger eye. It is estimated that three percent of children under six have some form of amblyopia. Lazy eye usually causes no symptoms.Parents often notice there is a problem because their child may look cross-eyed, squint or tilts his or her head in awkward ways. Screening will normally detect it. Early diagnosis increases the chance for a complete recovery. Lazy eye will not go away on its own. If not diagnosed until the teen or adult years, treatment takes longer and is often less effective. The goals in treating lazy eye are to produce clear vision in both eyes and also to strengthen the weaker eye. This is commonly achieved by patching the child's stronger eye for periods during the day, thereby forcing the weaker eye to work harder. It may also include a combination of prescription lenses, prisms, and vision therapy.
If you notice any of the following it is time to book a full eye examination:
- Eyes that appear to be crossed
- Holding the head in awkward positions while looking at distant objects
- Frequent squinting
- Constantly closing or covering one eye
If the condition is not detected and treated early, loss of vision and depth perception can occur. However, it can be improved with proper treatment. Comprehensive vision screenings for pre-schoolers is strongly recommended.