Lazy Eye Treatment in Kelowna (Amblyopia)
Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, affects an estimated 3% of children under the age of six and up to 5% of the adult population.
Amblyopia is a communication problem between the brain and the eye. Normally, the eyes send identical images to the brain, but when one of the images is distorted, the brain refuses to accept communication from the eye sending the distorted image. Instead, the brain decides to communicate only with the eye that sends the clear image. As a result, the brain doesn’t record the images sent by the amblyopic eye, which means visual acuity cannot be reached, even with corrective lenses. This leads to a weakening of the amblyopic eye through lack of use.
Amblyopia develops during infancy and usually affects only one eye, but as one of the leading causes of visual loss, it should be taken seriously. The good news is that it can be treated effectively right here in Kelowna.
What Causes Lazy Eye?
Amblyopia can develop when the eye is prevented from focusing. The are three types of amblyopia: strabismic amblyopia, refractive amblyopia, and deprivation amblyopia. The difference between these three lies in the underlying cause.
- Strabismic amblyopia is the most common and is caused by eyes that are poorly aligned.
- Refractive amblyopia refers to unequal refractive errors. The eyes may be perfectly aligned, but one eye is nearsighted and the other is farsighted, or one eye has astigmatism and the other doesn’t, causing an imbalance.
- Deprivation amblyopia happens when light is obstructed from entering and focusing the eye
In each of these cases, the messages sent to the brain from the eyes are different, which causes the brain to communicate with only one eye.
Kelowna Lazy Eye Treatment
Early detection is vital to prevent loss of vision, and a comprehensive eye exam is necessary to determine the type of amblyopia. Fortunately, treatment is effective. The treatment depends on the type of amblyopia that has been diagnosed.
For strabismic amblyopia, there are three treatments: patching, penalizing eye drops, or in extreme cases, surgery.
Patching has proven to be most effective. A patch is worn over the unaffected eye, which forces the brain to accept images from the lazy eye. Over time, this strengthens the eye and rebalances alignment. A patch should be worn for several hours a day and treatment could take weeks or months. Atropine eye drops work in the same way. When placed in the unaffected eye, atropine causes blurred vision, essentially penalizing the good eye.
Strabismic surgery is an operation on the eye muscles. When the muscle is too strong or too weak, surgery can rebalance the function of the eye muscles. However, after surgery, patching and orthoptics are still needed to ensure vision acuity.
Refractive amblyopia can be treated with glasses or contact lenses that correct the refractive lens in the eye. And surgery may be needed to treat deprivation amblyopia if it is caused by cataracts. Patching or orthoptics will also be a part of the treatment to help rebalance the eyes after surgery.
If you are concerned about your child’s eyes, or if you are an adult who has amblyopia, you don’t need to put up with it. Make an appointment to have a full eye exam, and we’ll recommend the best Kelowna amblyopia treatment for you.