What is a lazy eye?
Lazy eye (amblyopia) is reduced vision in one eye caused by abnormal visual development early in life. The weaker — or lazy — eye often wanders inward or outward.Amblyopia generally develops from birth up to age 7 years. It is the leading cause of decreased vision in one eye among children. Rarely, lazy eye affects both eyes.
What are the signs and symptoms of lazy eye?
Signs and symptoms of lazy eye include:
- An eye that wanders inward or outward
- Eyes that appear to not work together
- Poor depth perception
- Squinting or shutting an eye
- Head tilting
- Abnormal results of vision screening tests
One way to check your child's eyes is to cover each eye with your hand, one at a time. They might object to covering the good eye, but they might not mind if you cover the lazy eye.
When to seek medical advice?
Lazy eye is often diagnosed during routine eye tests before parents realise there's a problem.Children should have their eyes tested once they're old enough to attend a sight test, which is usually after they are 3.5 years old. It's difficult to treat lazy eye after the age of 4.5, so it's a good idea for children to have an eye test between the ages of 3.5 and 4.5.
What causes a lazy eye?
The eyes work like a camera. Light passes through the lens of each eye and reaches a light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye called the retina.The retina translates the image into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. The brain combines the signals from each eye into a three-dimensional image. A lazy eye occurs when the brain connections responsible for vision aren't made properly. This can be the result of:
- A reduction in the amount of light entering the eye
- A lack of focus in the eye
- Confusion between the eyes – where the two images aren't the same (such as a squint)
Left untreated, this can lead to the eye's central vision never reaching normal levels.
How is lazy eye diagnosed?
Your doctor will conduct a thorough eye exam, checking for eye health, a wandering eye, a difference in vision between the eyes or poor vision in both eyes. Eye drops are generally used to dilate the eyes. The eye drops cause blurred vision that lasts for several hours or a day.The method used to test vision depends on your child's age and stage of development:
- Preverbal children. A lighted magnifying device can be used to detect cataracts. Other tests can assess an infant or toddler's ability to fixate his or her gaze and to follow a moving object.
- Children ages 3 and older. Tests using pictures or letters can assess the child's vision. Each eye is patched in turn to test the other
What is the treatment of lazy eye?
It's important to start treatment for lazy eye as soon as possible in childhood, when the complicated connections between the eye and the brain are forming. The best results occur when treatment starts before age 7.Treatment options depend on the cause of lazy eye and on how much the condition is affecting your child's vision. Your doctor might recommend:
- Corrective eyewear. Glasses or contact lenses can correct problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism that result in lazy eye.
- Eye patches. To stimulate the weaker eye, your child may wear an eye patch over the stronger eye. The patch is generally worn for two to six hours a day.
- Bangerter filter. This special filter is placed on the eyeglass lens of the stronger eye. The filter blurs the stronger eye and, like an eye patch, works to stimulate the weaker eye.
- Eye drops. A twice-weekly eyedrop of a medication called atropine (Isopto Atropine) can temporarily blur vision in the stronger eye. This will encourage your child to use the weaker eye, and offers an alternative to wearing a patch. Side effects include sensitivity to light.
- Surgery. If your child's eyes cross or wander apart, your doctor may recommend surgical repair for the eye muscles. Your child may also need surgery if he or she has droopy eyelids or cataracts
For most children with lazy eye, proper treatment improves vision within weeks to several months.
Does my Insurance Policy cover lazy eye?
Yes. According to CCHI unified policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia should cover treatment for lazy eye.Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.
References:"Lazy Eye." Lazy Eye(amblyopia). N.p., May 2016. Web. Sept. 2016.
"Lazy Eye." Lazy Eye(amblyopia). N.p., June 2016. Web. Sept. 2016.
"Lazy Eye." Rules and Regulations. N.p., n.d. Web.