My last blog about amblyopia discussed what amblyopia is and why it happens. It’s been a while so if you forget what amblyopia was or missed that blog follow the link back and find out more before reading about how we treat amblyopia.
So what do we do about amblyopia? It’s actually not all that difficult! If there is a large amount of farsightedness or astigmatism our first step is to correct the prescription. A lot of parents get lost about now. We’ve just spent the last several minutes explaining to them that their child can’t see properly even with glasses and now we’re saying that they need glasses to fix the problem. This is especially tricky if there is no change in how well the kid sees without glasses or with! It’s totally fair to question what we’re doing and why. The idea is to provide the eye (or eyes) with a nice sharp image. It may not make any difference in how well they see at first but over time as the eyes receive a nice sharp image they will learn more and more how to see better. If we go back to our earlier analogy with the flowers it’s sort of like watering the poor neglected flower. Just because you watered it doesn’t mean it instantly comes back to health and looks amazing. It takes care and time to nurse that flower back into full bloom.
If the amblyopia is only in one eye or is strabismic (eye turn) patching an eye is often required. The reason we have to patch in cases where only one eye is affected is because if we don’t the better eye will just take over and keep doing all the work. This prevents the weaker eye from doing any work and slows or eliminates how well it will improve. The good news is that research has found that patching is NOT required all day every day! In fact it is only required for a few hours each night though we do recommend that the patient does some visually stimulating activities like reading, colouring or even video games.
There are certainly some cases that are more complicated and require more intervention and far more intensive vision therapy. Some patients may eventually require an eye surgery if they have an eye turn but the majority of patients with amblyopia can be easily treated so long as it is detected early. The older we are the harder it is to treat amblyopia as our brains are more set in their ways. So book your kids in for an eye exam today! You may think they see just fine, they may seem to see well but remember amblyopia may only affect one eye and young kids often don’t realize what they aren’t seeing!