How to fix a lazy eye: treatment strategies

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Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a disease that causes poor vision, usually in one eye. It affects about 3 in 100 children.

People with lazy eye have one eye that is stronger than the other because the brain and the weaker eye do not communicate well.

Your eyes and your brain have to work together for the vision to occur. To enable this, your retina sends nerve signals from the back of the eye to the optic nerve, which transmits the signals to the brain. There they are interpreted as the things you see.

If you have one eye weaker than the other, your brain may start favoring the stronger eye and stop receiving signals from the weaker eye.

Left untreated, lazy eye can get worse over time. But the condition is treatable. In this article, we will go over the different treatments available for this condition and how you can get the best results.

The nerves and communication pathways that connect the eyes to the brain are formed during childhood. For this reason, treatment for lazy eyes is often more effective in people 7 years of age or younger.

The earlier you start treatment, the more likely you are to get good results. However, positive results can still be seen in adolescents, up to around 17 years old.

If you have a lazy eye and are over 17, don’t let your age put you off. Even adults with a lazy eye can often get better vision with treatment, so it’s worth talking to your doctor about the options.

Treatment options for lazy eyes include:

  • corrective glasses and contact lenses
  • eye patches
  • Banger filter
  • eye drops
  • coaching
  • surgery

We’ll go through each option below.

Lazy eye is sometimes caused by different vision in each eye. For example, one eye may be hyperopic (hyperopia) or nearsighted (nearsightedness). This causes a difference in the sharpness of vision between each eye. This is called refractive amblyopia.

Astigmatism, or an irregular curve of the cornea, in one eye can also cause a lazy eye.

These lazy eye causes can often be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Obtain a prescription

To get these types of glasses, you or your child will need to have your eyes examined and evaluated by an ophthalmologist, such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

You will need a prescription for corrective glasses, and you can usually have glasses made by an optometrist or optician.

Cost

If you have health insurance with vision benefits, the cost of corrective lenses should be included in your coverage. However, you may still need to pay a deductible or coinsurance amount.

Each insurance company varies in terms of coverage. Be sure to check with your provider, so you can better determine what your out-of-pocket expenses will be.

If you don’t have health insurance, your prescription lens costs may vary depending on your location and the type of glasses you purchase. You can expect to pay anywhere from $ 35 to several hundred dollars for glasses.

Wearing an eye patch is a simple and economical treatment for lazy eyes. It helps improve the vision of the weaker eye.

You should wear the eye patch over the eye that has better vision for about 2 to 6 hours a day. Your doctor will tell you how long to keep the patch.

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Wearing the patch for many hours can sometimes cause a lazy eye to appear in the stronger eye. When this happens, the condition is usually rectified easily with treatment.

Where to find

Eye patches can be used alone or with corrective lenses. Your doctor may be able to provide you with eye patches. Otherwise, they are readily available at drugstores and online, and they tend to be inexpensive.

Many eye patches have cute designs, so small children will be less resistant to wearing them.

Children who cannot tolerate eye patches may achieve the same or similar results with Bangerter filters. These filters are a type of opaque coating that fits inside the eyeglass lens worn on the dominant eye.

Bangerter filters should be worn full time. They can be changed for density and opacity over time, as symptoms improve. For this reason, they can be useful after applying the patch, as a secondary treatment.

Medicated eye drops can be used to blur the vision of the dominant eye, causing the weaker eye to work harder. The drug typically used is atropine, which is sold under the brand name Isopto Atropine.

Atropine dilates the pupil of the eye, causing blurred vision. It can be used several times a day to decrease the vision of the dominant eye, causing the lazy eye to work harder.

You will need a prescription

Atropine is only available with a prescription and should be used according to your doctor’s instructions.

Cost

Atropine is covered by insurance, although your plan may require you to purchase the generic type. The price of this drug can range from $ 25 to over $ 60.

Games and activities designed to challenge the weak eye have been shown to be beneficial, but they may not be enough to correct vision as a stand-alone treatment.

Eye training tools include specific types of computer or iPad games and activities, such as assembling puzzles and drawings.

Training with computer games and videos has been found to be effective in several small studies, including one of 2016 and one from 2018. However, more research is needed before it can be considered effective enough to be used without other forms of therapy, such as wearing an eye patch.

Lazy eye surgery is performed to adjust the length or positioning of the eye muscles. It can be used when amblyopia is caused by:

  • strabismus
  • drooping eyelid
  • cataract

Surgical solutions for lazy eyes usually require additional strategies, such as eye dressing, in order to correct vision. Surgery is also used to improve the aesthetic appearance of the eye.

Success rate

Success rates for this type of surgery vary widely, from around 30 to 80 percent.

Risks

The risks associated with this type of surgery include overcorrection or undercorrection of the eye. There are also the usual minimal risks associated with any type of surgery, such as infection.

Complications that can lead to vision loss are very rare.

Recovery

The recovery time at home will take a few days to a week. During this time, red or pink tears may flow from the eye. The eye may also be red. Mild pain and swelling are to be expected.

Cost

The costs for this type of surgery will depend on your insurance and location. They can reach $ 6,000 or more.

Can laser refractive surgery correct lazy eye?

Refractive laser surgery can be used to improve mild or moderate amblyopia in children and adults.

Lazy eye often goes undiagnosed in children. This can lead to loss of vision.

If you think that you or your child has lazy eye, it is important to see a doctor. They can recommend treatment options designed specifically to address the underlying problem, saving you time and possibly your vision.

You can speak to a general practitioner or search for a board-certified specialist in your area using this online tool.

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, affects about 3 in 100 children. The condition is treatable and generally responds well to strategies such as eye bandaging and wearing corrective lenses.

The best results for lazy eye are usually seen when the condition is treated early, in children 7 years of age or younger.


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