Amblyopia, colloquially called lazy eye, is a condition in which the eye cannot perform its intended function due to neurological neglect. An eye affected by amblyopia does not receive the stimulation it needs from the brain to behave normally, which causes the brain to favor the healthy eye.
It develops from strabismus (eye-turn) or untreated refractive errors. Over time, the brain overcomes the disability of the untreated eye by developing optic nerves for only one eye and neglecting the other. The result is an inability to perceive depth.
Treating lazy eye with vision therapy helps slowly introduce the brain to new strategies for receiving feedback from both eyes equally. Exercises encourage the use of an eye affected by amblyopia in new ways that gradually improve regular brain and eye response. In advanced stages of therapy, affected eyes learn to see again through increased acuity and binocular function.
The Beginning of the Vision Therapy for Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) Process
When treating a patient of amblyopia (lazy eye), vision therapists must first identify the origin of the condition, then treat the symptoms of the origin with specialized exercises. Amblyopia does not originate universally from a single cause.
Instead, it begins as an advanced stage of one or more other vision conditions, such as:
- Misaligned or cross-eyes (otherwise called strabismus)
- Early childhood vision obstruction such as cataracts or ptosis (drooping of eyelid)
- Moderate to severe difference in the refractive status (prescription level) of two eyes from astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.
Symptoms of underlying conditions are not always obvious to adults or children. A thorough eye exam from a certified developmental optometrist is your best chance to identify problems before they cause amblyopia. For adults and children who already deal with amblyopia, treatment can still reteach the eye to work in tandem with the other eye.
How Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) Is Treated through Vision Therapy
Eyeglasses or contact lenses can boost the effects of vision therapy for those who suffer from amblyopia. Therapists will use additional exercises and techniques to improve the brain’s response to input from the affected eye, such as:
- Patching of the unaffected eye with prescribed activities
- Binocular vision exercises
- Accommodation (focusing) tasks
- Pursuit (eye tracking) activities
- Rapid eye movement and fixation exercises
- Spatial skill tests (should be tasks not tests)
Eye patching activities can be phased out of a vision therapy program as improvements are made to allow both eyes to learn to work together. As stereoscopic vision improves, the brain will continue to work to improve depth perception and start to share the work of seeing between both eyes.
Seeking Treatment for Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
A lazy eye is not actually lazy; it is actively ignored by the brain as a strategy for compensating for an underlying condition. Vision therapists can treat mild to severe amblyopia using proven techniques – but progress is in your hands, too.
Take the first step toward recovery today. All you have to do is schedule a consultation with our team at the location of your choice. We’ll learn about your vision history, conduct a comfortable, thorough exam, and get you on the path to treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye) through vision therapy.