It's Never Too Late To Treat a Lazy Eye

It's Never Too Late To Treat a Lazy Eye in Manhattan

Amplify EyeCare Manhattan

What is Lazy Eye?

Lazy eye is a condition, referred to medically as amblyopia, which occurs when there is a lack of coordination between both eyes causing one eye to see poorly, even when trying to correct it with glasses or contact lenses. In such a case, each eye is receiving its own image that does not align with the other and in order to cope with this, the brain shuts off and suppresses the image from the eye referred to as a lazy eye. The brain solely relies on the second eye, which is the only eye that is able to achieve 20/20 vision. 

There are various causes of amblyopia including a high prescription of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism either in both eyes or when one eye has a higher prescription than the other. The most noticeable cause of a lazy eye is when one eye wanders outwards or inwards, but many cases of amblyopia are difficult to detect without an eye exam. It is important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with our optometrist who will be able to diagnose and treat the condition for patients of all ages.

Can Lazy Eye be Treated in Older Children, Adolescents and Adults?

The answer is yes! Sadly there is a common misconception, even amongst the scientific and medical community, that a lazy eye can only be treated up until around age eight. It is so unfortunate for people who are older than that to be withheld from having access to effective treatment due to this misconception that has been researched and proven to be incorrect. Treatment may take longer in an adult compared to a child, but people who are older than eight years old can still benefit greatly from successful results. Adolescents and adults have the advantage of generally being more compliant and determined to participate in the treatment plan as an older patient usually has a greater understanding of what is trying to be accomplished. Please allow yourself the opportunity to achieve optimal vision, no matter how old you are. We welcome you to schedule a consultation at our office.

Can Lazy Eye be Treated in Older Children, Adolescents and Adults?

What is brain plasticity?

The brain has an incredible feature known as plasticity which means it can always adapt and be trained to strengthen and to perform new functions. This applies greatly to the treatment of amblyopia, a neural abnormality of vision, in which the brain and the visual pathways can be trained to work together properly as a team without suppressing the lazy eye. Plasticity is not limited to a certain age and it applies in adulthood as well, yielding effective results for patients who are both younger and older. This special feature that our brain possesses allows us to learn new skills, to recover from various setbacks and to constantly be growing.

What happens if amblyopia is left untreated?

It is so important to understand that it is never too late to treat a lazy eye because the alternative of leaving this condition untreated can have serious consequences and lead to various conditions, such as:

  • Strabismus - this is when the eyes are crossed as opposed to being properly aligned 
  • Central vision issues - an untreated lazy eye can cause central visual impairment
  • Blindness - permanent vision loss can be caused by an untreated lazy eye; lazy eye is the most common cause of single vision loss in the U.S. 

Treatment Methods for Adults with Amblyopia

After a comprehensive assessment, a customized treatment plan will be created for the patient’s individual needs and visual skills. There are different methods for treating a lazy eye and often patients benefit from a combination of techniques:

  • Prescription glasses - are used to correct any refractive error, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism
  • Vision therapy - uses different exercises to strengthen how the brain works together with the eyes to optimize the entire visual system.
  • Eye patching - scientific studies prove that long hours of eye patching is no longer the effective method for treatment, but rather a combination of vision therapy and a few hours of patching is at least just as effective as full-time patching
  • Atropine eye drops - scientific research proves that daily administration of eye drops used to fog the vision from one eye, allowing the lazy eye to strengthen, is no longer the most effective method of treatment. Using the eye drops only on weekends will yield the same results as daily administration.
  • Virtual Reality - the FDA approved a virtual reality treatment method for amblyopia in which the patient watches modified movies and TV shows in order to strengthen the lazy eye using a virtual reality headset. Each eye receives its own image with different contrasts and learns to work optimally with the other eye and the brain in order to perceive the images properly
Can Lazy Eye be Treated in Older Children, Adolescents and Adults?
Dr. Wernick cartoon

No matter the age, if you have been diagnosed with amblyopia or you want to be checked if you have a lazy eye we strongly recommend scheduling an appointment in order to receive the eye care you deserve.

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