What parent or child likes to hear that they have a “lazy eye”? Do you think a child’s self-consciousness is boosted when they are diagnosed with a “lazy eye”? What does “lazy eye” even mean?
Unfortunately lazy eye is a garbage can term. It is used by some to mean a droopy eyelid (ptosis). It is used by others to mean an eye turn (strabismus). And yet to others it means an eye that doesn’t see as well at the fellow eye (amblyopia).
I think it’s well past time to drop the term “lazy eye” forever, in favor of a softer term– Learning Eye, perhaps??
I have had many children come to my office and proclaim “I have a lazy eye. It doesn’t see ANYTHING” only to discover it in fact CAN see, just at a different level than their other eye. Treatment for a learning eye has previously been patching, which every mother, father, and child LOVES! Why wouldn’t putting a patch over the teaching eye and allowing them to see with a much less clear image be fun for everyone?
Amblyopia is an active process of suppression that happens in the brain. This means the brain constantly has to allot conscious effort to turning off the image from one eye. Therefore, the brain now has less resources available to take in information, understand it, and respond to it.
We have not patched a child in many years. The main reason is that we understand our main goal as Behavioral/Developmental Optometrists is to encourage the use of both eyes together. This is not accomplished by removing one eye from the equation for even a few hours per day. Instead, we recommend activities that encourage the brain to use both eyes at the same time to accomplish a single task. This consequently has had great results improving not only acuity, but depth perception and visual comfort as well. The chance of regression is also less when the brain has learned that using both eyes together is a GOOD thing.
If you are interested in finding an optometrist in your area who utilizes binocularity as a means for treatment, please visit the College of Optometrists in Vision Development website.