Non-Surgical Options for Treating Your Child’s Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is the medical name for a condition that is often called lazy eye. When your child has amblyopia, it means they have poor vision in a normal eye. That is, everything necessary for good vision is there, yet, your child doesn’t see well out of that eye. 

You may imagine a drooping eye when you read the phrase “lazy eye,” but your child may have amblyopia without any outward sign. 

The brain-eye connection

From birth until about the age of eight, your child is both learning and developing. When it comes to eyesight, the neural pathways from the eyes to the brain are still forming. After that, those pathways are more or less set, and problems such as amblyopia are much harder to correct. 

One of the reasons pediatric eye care is so critically important is that amblyopia can exist without any symptoms. Your child doesn’t know they have weaker vision in one eye, and there may not be any indication that you can detect. 

Amblyopia can be successfully treated, especially before your child’s neural pathways are set. Before the age of eight or so, strengthening the vision in the weak eye is possible, and will lead to better vision for a lifetime afterward. 

Building strength

The treatment for amblyopia is to strengthen the weaker eye. There are different ways this might be accomplished, and the most appropriate one for your child may depend in part on the underlying cause of the amblyopia. 

An eye-patch

One of the most common treatments for amblyopia is to put a patch over the stronger eye. As you can imagine, most children don’t like this. It may take some time for you to convince them to wear it. 

Glasses

A similar approach is for your child to wear glasses with a lens that blurs the vision in the stronger eye. Again, you may find it difficult to convince your child to wear the glasses because they won’t be able to see as well — for a time. 

Eye drops

In some cases, the most appropriate treatment is the use of atropine drops in the stronger eye. These drops temporarily blur the vision of the stronger eye, which forces your child to use the weaker eye. 

Your amblyopia outlook

The good news is that amblyopia is usually successfully treated. It may take some time, usually ranging from a few weeks to a few months with follow-ups at regular intervals, but outcomes for young children treated for amblyopia are generally very good. 

If it’s time for your child’s regular appointment, or if you suspect they may have amblyopia, schedule a checkup at Cooper Eye Care Center. We have offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and you can either schedule online or by giving us a call. 

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