Amblyopia, commonly referred to as lazy eye, implies reduced or blurred vision in one eye in contrast to the other. This eye condition is as a result of the brain favouring one eye and refusing to use the other eye. Since the eye is 'turned off', clear vision becomes a problem in the lazy eye. It is important for parents to schedule visits to an optometrist to have their children's eyes examined as early as possible so that possible vision problems, such as amblyopia, can be detected and treated much sooner.
How amblyopia develops
Kids with normal vision develop the ability to use both eyes jointly during the first few months after birth. Their brains learn to capture pictures from both their right and left eyes and combine the two pictures into one image. This is known as normal two-eye vision or binocularity. For children with a lazy eye, their brains don't develop the ability to use both their eyes jointly. At the tender age, these kids learn to use only one eye, while their brains obstruct the incoming image from the other eye. As a result, acuity or normal vision sharpness doesn't develop in the lazy eye. How weak the vision is in the lazy eye is based to some extent on how early in the visual development of the child the brain blocked the eye.
Using vision therapy
Vision therapy by an optometrist is quite effective in improving the vision of a lazy eye. The purpose of vision therapy is twofold: correct the weak vision in the lazy eye and address the underlying dilemma of the brain's failure to use the two eyes in cooperation. In order to improve the vision of the lazy eye, patching forms part of therapy. Typically, the used eye is patched to compel the lazy eye to work, though it occurs for a short time duration. Instead of full-time patching, a patient undergoing vision therapy will be often asked to patch for at least two hours.
As earlier mentioned, therapy also seeks to train the brain to stop blocking the lazy eye. In effect, there's no blockage in the visual pathways connecting the brain to both eyes, which allows the patient to align both eyes, and eventually, the brain learns to combine the pictures from both eyes for normal two-eyed vision.
The benefits achieved through vision therapy are lasting because the child's brain learns how to combine the pictures from the two eyes, which in turn means the child's visual system becomes normal. Consider having your child's vision tested regularly by an optometrist to detect and treat potential vision problems like amblyopia.