What is amblyopia?
Reduced vision that is not correctable by glasses or contact lenses and is not due to any eye disease. The eyeball itself is perfectly healthy, but the brain does not know what to do with the information. The brain never learned how to see with that eye. Amblyopia usually affects only one eye, but it can affect both eyes. Amblyopia is NOT the same as strabismus or ‘eye turn’, since the eyes can be perfectly straight and also be ‘lazy’. You can have both strabismus and amblyopia!
What causes amblyopia?
Sometime during vision development (before the age of 6 years), the ‘lazy eye’ was getting bad information. This may have been because one eye needed a very different glasses prescription than the other eye (refractive amblyopia), or because one eye was turned in or out (strabismic amblyopia), or because one eye was blocked from getting any vision at all because of a cataract or droopy lid (deprivation amblyopia). Instead of the brain learning how to see with that eye, it was working hard to ignore that eye, which results in amblyopia or ‘lazy eye’.
Amblyopia is the leading cause of vision loss in the under 40 age group! It accounts for more cases of vision loss than all of the injuries and diseases combined in this age group.
Treatment for amblyopia often includes patching, but patching alone does not teach the eyes how to work together. Gaining depth perception and good eye teaming skills is what keeps the eye from being ‘lazy’ again later. Vision Therapy provides the ‘glue’ that keeps both eyes working together and seeing great!
To quote a renowned developmental optometrist, Dr. Leonard J. Press, FAAO, FCOVD:
“It’s been proven that a motivated adult with strabismus and/or amblyopia who works diligently at Vision Therapy can obtain meaningful improvement in visual function. As my patients are fond of saying: “I’m not looking for perfection; I’m looking for you to help me make it better”. It’s important that eye doctors don’t make sweeping value judgments for patients. Rather than saying “nothing can be done”, the proper advice would be: “You won’t have as much improvement as you would have had at a younger age; but I’ll refer you to a vision specialist who can help you if you’re motivated.”