“Lazy eye”, or Amblyopia, is defined as a reduction of corrected visual acuity in one or both eyes without associated eye disease. The eye-to-brain connection in the amblyopic eye(s) is very poor and the brain ignores or suppresses most of its signals in order to make sense of what is seen. Amblyopia may be caused by an eye turn (strabismic), a large prescription difference between the two eyes (refractive), stress (psychogenic), and disruption in the normal image-forming ability of the eye at an early age (deprivation).
With strabismic amblyopia the presence of an eye turn is likely to be noticed. Unfortunately, without an eye turn there are no reliable signs to make the patient or parent suspect the presence of refractive amblyopia and it may go undiagnosed for years. Young children may rub their eyes and adults may squint to improve vision, but these signs occur in a variety of other conditions and are not reliable indicators to refractive amblyopia. Complaints of blurred vision, headaches, and eye discomfort are potential symptoms that patients with amblyopia may report, but it is also very likely that there will be no symptoms. Family history can also play a role in refractive amblyopia. If you are concerned or have reason for concern, a comprehensive eye exam is the most conclusive way for a diagnosis.
Amblyopia can cause spatial distortions, poor eye tracking abilities, and inaccurate accommodative (eye focusing) response. The most significant problems usually result from a decrease in stereopsis or depth perception. This may make it difficult to perform many common activities, including watching 3D movie, reading, driving a car, catching a ball, and playing sports. In addition, amblyopia may contribute to later onset of strabismus (eye turn) and a greater risk of losing vision in the better eye.
Optometric Vision therapy for amblyopia is designed to treat deficiencies in four specific areas:
1. Eye Sight
2. Eye movements and fixation
3. Spatial perception, accommodative efficiency
4. Binocular (eye teaming) function
The goal of the optometric vision therapy program is to improve these deficiencies using a combination of prescription lenses, prisms, and eye patching in order to bring the skills of the amblyopic eye equal to the other eye and then integrating both eyes into binocular functioning to develop the patient’s depth perception.