Treating Amblyopia At The Vision Therapy Center at Jeffrey H. Brown, OD In Costa Mesa, California
How Does Vision Therapy Compare To Eye Patching?
Amblyopia, commonly referred to as Lazy Eye, occurs when the brain and the eye are not working in unison, resulting in decreased vision in an eye that otherwise seems healthy. For the last few hundred years, one of the principal documented non-surgical treatments for individuals suffering from amblyopia has been eyepatch therapy.
By covering the good eye with an eyepatch for multiple hours per day, the weaker eye is forced to compensate and develop. Often, eye patching was and continues to be combined with orthoptics (eye muscle exercises) in order to enhance the effects.
Unwanted Side Effects Of Patching
- Social stigma
- Emotional distress
- Progress very slow, 3-12 months
- A weakening of the stronger eye
An alternative to patching that is relatively newer is the use of medicated eye drops in the form of atropine, a medication that is used to relax the muscles in the eye causing the pupil to dilate. Small doses of atropine effectively blur the vision in the good eye forcing the brain to depend on the weaker eye and compensate. While atropine avoids having to use an unsightly patch, it can cause nodules to form in the eye which requires additional medical intervention.
Atropine and patching both depend on penalizing one eye so the other will compensate. What neither of these two treatments do is address the underlying neurological vision problem responsible for the amblyopia in the first place.
The only treatment available which treats the amblyopia and not just the symptoms is Vision Therapy, also called Development Optometry. This field of neuro-optometry has been making immense headway over the past 20 years as a verified and effective treatment which addresses the imbalance between the way the brain interacts with the eyes. This is especially true when the amblyopia is strabismic, as patching and atropine are far less effective even in treating the symptoms of amblyopia whereas Vision Therapy is proven to be effective in treating both amblyopia AND strabismus, respectively.
Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes, also referred to as an eye turn. It is a common misconception to refer to strabismus as lazy eye when really it refers to amblyopia. This can be confusing since strabismus results in amblyopia and problems in depth perception, amongst other vision issues. In some instances, Strabismus can be corrected using glasses or contacts, eye muscle surgery, and prisms. However, if the images perceived by both eyes are not aligned, this can make it very difficult to successfully treat lazy eye (amblyopia). Often, parents are told that a child will outgrow the problem, but that has been proven incorrect and in most cases the problem does not improve as the child grows. Eye muscle surgery can sometimes make the eyes appear to others as if it is straight, but it rarely aligns with the other eye, and the amblyopia continues. A program of Vision Therapy is usually needed in order to restore visual function and the ability to use the two eyes together as a team.
How Long Does VT Take To Help With Lazy Eye?
There is a sliding scale depending upon the severity of the condition. A mild condition may only need 12 sessions. On the other hand, if the condition is severe, it could take up to 32 sessions or even more. The only way a more specific timeline can be developed is through a comprehensive assessment.
Contact the The Vision Therapy Center at Jeffrey H. Brown, OD in Costa Mesa. Dr. Jeffrey Brown will provide a full evaluation and give you a more specific outline of your treatment plan and timeline.