Does my child have a lazy eye?
A lazy eye (amblyopia) is a childhood condition that results in one eye not developing at the same rate as the other. Vision is weaker in the lazy eye and the child will begin to favour their strong eye.
Lazy eyes develop when the brain begins ignoring signals sent from one of the eyes. If left untreated, permanent loss of vision in the affected eye can occur. Around one in 50 children are thought to suffer from a lazy eye.The condition is usually diagnosed in children when they are around four years old, but it can be difficult to spot, as they may not be aware something is wrong. In some cases, the child may also have a squint. This is where one of the eyes looks in a different direction to the other.
A lazy eye will normally be diagnosed through a routine eye exam and there are several treatments available to help overcome the condition. First, any underlying problems that may exacerbate a lazy eye should be treated. Short- or far-sightedness can be improved by making the child wear glasses, for example.The child will then be encouraged to use the lazy eye more. This can be achieved by putting a patch over the strong eye or applying eye drops to blur vision in the stronger eye.
Outcomes for a lazy eye are typically good, provided the condition is diagnosed and treated as early as possible. However, positive outcomes are less likely as the child gets older and may depend on how co-operative and motivated kids are in following the treatment. An eye patch should be worn for several hours a day over a number of weeks. While wearing a patch, children should be encouraged to do a number of close-up activities to strengthen the weak eye, such as reading, colouring and writing.