Frequently referred to as “lazy eye”, amblyopia is a condition where the brain has not developed properly to use one eye. It’s usually caused by the eyes having unequal amounts of hyperopia (far-sightedness) or by an eye that turns inward or outward (strabismus.)
It is often thought of as reduced eyesight or visual acuity in one eye, but it is much more than that. The amblyopic eye is also worse in terms of eye movement accuracy, adjusting focus, spatial perception, etc. Additionally, since the brain has has not developed to use both eyes as a team, amblyopes typically have little to no 3D vision.
Frequently the only treatment options given to patients are glasses and a regimen of eye patching. Kids generally dislike patching and parents often give up in frustration. It is also common that people past a certain age (usually about 8 years old) are told that intervention is pointless.
It turns out that function of the “lazy” eye can be improved at any age, even for adults. There’s more to good amblyopia treatment than simply patching one eye. With vision therapy you we can work toward developing a fully functioning visual system where the brain can use both eyes together as a team.
Strabismus is a condition where one eye is misaligned, typically pointing inward (esotropia) or outward (exotropia.) If the eyes are misaligned all the time, amblyopia is usually present as well. Sometimes the eye turn is so slight that it is not noticed by the parents or pediatrician ( this is one reason why early eye exams are important.)
Sometimes glasses are all that is needed to resolve the problem, especially in cases where the child is very hyperopic (far-sighted.) In cases where glasses don’t fix the problem, parents are often told that their child needs strabismus surgery. This is a procedure where the eye muscles are cut and re-attached in a different position to mechanically place the eyes in better alignment. After strabismus surgery, the eyes often appear cosmetically aligned, but the child still has not learned how to use both eyes together. As a result, the eye will often begin to drift again (at which point a 2nd or 3rd surgery may be recommended.) In most cases of strabismus, the eye muscles are perfectly functional. The real issue is in how the brain is controlling the eyes.
It should make perfect sense that if strabismus is a brain development issue, it should be treated as such. This is what vision therapy does. Unfortunately, many people are never informed of vision therapy as an treatment option. It does take more time and effort, so it isn’t for people looking for a quick fix, but when successful, it results in straight eyes and a more functional human being.