Misdiagnosed lazy eye

Published on
March 30, 2022

The human visual system is complex, which can make it difficult to make an accurate diagnosis, which is why you need to see an optometrist with extensive training and experience with lazy eye. Children who display symptoms of a lazy eye should have an eye exam performed by a developmental optometrist.

 

What is a lazy eye?

A lazy eye is an eye that hasn't developed correctly, usually because of a problem early in life or in infancy. Due to the problem, the brain does not receive good feedback from the eye. Therefore, the brain's connection to the eye does not develop properly. 

 

How is a lazy eye misdiagnosed?

With a lazy eye, the most common problem is that children aren't examined on time. The earlier an eye doctor examines a child with a lazy eye, the better their chances of overcoming it. The problem is, children might not always understand that they need to see an eye doctor or that what they see is even abnormal. Having a developmental eye exam when a child starts school or even earlier is very important, to determine if the brain is ignoring an eye or if a lazy eye is potentially present.

Lazy eye can be confused with other conditions, especially strabismus, since these two conditions can coexist, as one may cause the other. However, even if one finds out in adulthood that they were misdiagnosed as children, vision therapy can still be effective in treating the correct diagnosis.

 

What binocular disorders can a lazy eye cause?

It is not uncommon for binocular disorders to occur when both eyes do not work properly together. Among the most common are:

  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus
  • Convergence insufficiency
  • Double vision

 

Example of a  that was misdiagnosed

A woman had untreatable lazy eyes since she was a child. It was an incorrect diagnosis, but the fact that it was deemed 'untreatable' proved beneficial. She could have had a surgery to correct her lazy eye, but that would have been entirely the wrong approach. Even if a lazy eye truly existed, surgery is often ineffective and requires repeated operations.

When she was an adult, she discovered she had convergence insufficiency, a condition that caused a strabismus and underwent vision therapy for treatment. 

 

What role does vision therapy play in treating a lazy eye?

A vision therapy approach combines a variety of treatment methods in order to maximize their benefits. Vision therapy plans are tailored to meet the specific needs and abilities of each patient. A comprehensive eye exam determines the cause of the amblyopia and the patient's level of vision. During therapy sessions, patients are trained to coordinate both eyes with the brain by participating in various visual activities. 

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