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3 Things You Need to Know About Treating Childhood Amblyopia

Happy Little Girl Wearing Eyeglass
Childhood amblyopia, more commonly known as "lazy eye," occurs when there is a disconnect in the messaging system between the child's brain and one of their eyes. The child will have strong vision in one eye and subpar vision in the other eye.
One detail about amblyopia that can make formulating a successful treatment plan difficult is that it can occur in conjunction with other eye problems. Some of the issues that occur simultaneously with amblyopia include:
  • Cataracts
  • Strabismus
  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Astigmatism
Read on to learn important information about effectively treating childhood amblyopia .

1. Your Child May Not Know There Is a Problem

Since amblyopia worsens over time, it is possible for your child to believe that their vision is normal. They get used to have having their good eye overcompensate for the poor vision in their bad eye. This makes it essential for you to have your child undergo regular vision examinations, even if you don't believe any problems exist with their eyesight.
Other telltale signs that a child suffers from amblyopia include difficulty with depth perception, frequent squinting, and crossed eyes. Have your child's vision screened once a year to identify problems before they cause permanent vision loss.

2. Early Diagnosis is Essential to Improving Eyesight

  Your child's brain and eyes starts developing their connections at birth and continue to form these connections until the vision matures, usually around eight years of age. Your child's weak eye will prevent the formation of these connections.
To stop this situation from happening, your child's brain will start ignoring the images from your child's bad eye. This will cause the bad eye to be even weaker and further deteriorate the vision in that eye.
Early detection of amlyopia prevents the brain from learning to ignore the messages from the weak eye and prevents permanent vision loss. Treating cases of amblyopia is more difficult in older children with "mature' vision.

3. Treatment May Involve Multiple Methods

The prescribed treatment plan for amblyopia varies dramatically with each child. Your child's underlying vision problems and the severity of the amblyopia both influence their treatment. Cases of amblyopia caused by variations in vision strength between your child's eyes require the use of glasses or contacts. 
For many cases of amblyopia, treatment requires the use of an eye patch, regardless of any underlying cause. You will patch your child's strong eye for at least a few hours every day. This situation forces your child's weaker eye to develop connections with the brain, ultimately strengthening the vision in your child's bad eye.
Your child may need to wear the patch for months or even years to bolster the vision in their weaker eye. Some parents opt to use a daily eye drop in place of the patch. This eye drop temporarily obscures the vision in their good eye, basically functioning as a chemical patch. 
Some cases do require surgery, especially if there is a structural factor causing the lazy eye. For example, strabismum (a condition that occurs when the eyes do not align and work together properly) is one prevalent condition that leads to amblyopia. Most eye doctors regard eye surgery as the most effective treatment for cases of amblyopia caused by strabismum.
Vision therapy is another treatment alternative for milder cases of amblyopia caused by strabismum. During a vision therapy session, the therapist will use lenses, filters, prisms, and activities to attempt to teach your child's visual system to work properly.
This treatment is similar to physical therapy, but for the eyes. However, it can take time to see progress and your eye doctor may recommend a different treatment option for your child's amblyopia.
Is it time for your child's annual vision examination? Contact St. Pierre Eye Care today for an appointment at our Jonesboro or Trumann location.