What kind of doctor treats pediatric lazy eye?
When looking for the best eye doctors for your kids, the team at Insight Vision Care is here! A lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a condition in which one of the eyes is unable to communicate efficiently with the brain. While just one eye may be affected by lazy eye, both eyes can be and often are involved. This can happen when one eye has better vision than the other (anisometropia), an astigmatism in one eye, or a large amount of farsightedness in either eye. Your child’s lazy eye will likely be first noticed by your child’s pediatrician during an exam. During this visit, they will assess your child’s vision and examine their eyes using drops to dilate their pupils if needed. If you’d like to learn more about Pediatric ophthalmologist in Eden Prairie MN, contact Insight Vision Care today.
Amblyopia and Strabismus
A lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a condition in which one of the eyes is unable to communicate efficiently with the brain. This can cause problems with depth perception and three-dimensional vision.
Amblyopia may result from an eye injury (such as a scratched cornea) that causes blurred vision in only one eye. If one of your child’s eyes points inwards, it may be the result of strabismus, which is sometimes referred to as “lazy eye.” Strabismus is when the eyes do not line up correctly while looking at something straight ahead; this condition affects approximately 3% of Americans. A child who has been diagnosed with strabismus will often have an unequal ability to see clearly out of both eyes. If left untreated for too long—at any age—amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss in the affected eye (and sometimes both eyes).
Are both eyes affected?
While just one eye may be affected by lazy eye, both eyes can be and often are involved.
Lazy eye is not the same as crossed eyes. Lazy eye is a condition in which one or both eyes do not turn properly, so that images from one side of space are blurred when you see them through the blurry lens of your misaligned or turned eye(s). This means that fine details such as reading print, recognizing faces, and following moving objects are difficult for you to do with lazy eye.
Lazy eye can be caused by many factors including:
- Genetics – if another family member has it
- Injury – if you were hit in the face or injured during birth or shortly thereafter
- Uncorrected refractive error – because the retina is formed based on how images focus at its back surface (the retinal surface), anything that affects this focusing will affect how we perceive an image projected onto our retinas
What conditions can affect Lazy Eyes
- Anisometropia is when one eye has better vision than the other. It is a common cause of lazy eye.
- Astigmatism can occur in both eyes or just one, and it causes blurry vision because of irregularly shaped corneas that make light rays bend differently depending on where they hit your eye.
- Farsightedness means you have trouble seeing things close up, while nearsightedness means you find it hard to see far away things clearly. Both conditions can cause lazy eye if they are present in both eyes at birth (congenital). If only one eye has these conditions, then anisometropia may be present as well.
- Amblyopia occurs when visual signals from one eye are suppressed by the brain due to various reasons such as poor alignment between the two eyes (strabismus), severe nearsightedness that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses (myopia), or severe farsightedness that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses (hyperopia).
What to watch out for
Your child’s lazy eye will likely be first noticed by your child’s pediatrician during an exam. If you have concerns about the appearance of your baby’s eyes, or if you notice that one eye is always turned inwards or outwards, talk with your doctor.
If you are concerned about your child’s vision and want to make sure they receive the best care possible, it is best to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in treating disorders affecting the eyes). An ophthalmologist can help determine whether or not your child needs glasses and check for other problems besides just a lazy eye.
What happens during a pediatric eye exam
During this visit, they will assess your child’s vision and examine their eyes using drops to dilate their pupils if needed. This allows the doctor to get a better look at your child’s eye structures.
- The doctor will look at your child’s eyes with a magnifying lens called a fundus lens or an ophthalmoscope in order to see the retina and optic nerves.
- The doctor will shine light into your child’s eyes through an instrument called a slit lamp or direct their attention towards different parts of the eye while shining light into it.
Who can help?
If your child has a lazy eye that requires correction, parents should take their children to an optometrist who specializes in strabismus and amblyopia as soon as possible for professional treatment recommendations.
The American Association of Optometry (AAO) is the primary organization that represents optometrists in the United States. This organization provides standards of practice and guidelines for optometric professionals to follow when treating patients with strabismus or amblyopia. To become board-certified by the AAO, doctors must go through a rigorous process that includes passing national exams and internships. The bottom line is that most dentists you’ll meet have gone through rigorous training, so you can trust them to address your child’s needs.
Will they need glasses?
The doctor may have some tests done to see if glasses are necessary to correct any refractive error issues, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.
- Nearsightedness, or myopia, is when you can see things close up well but have trouble seeing things far away.
- Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is when you can see things far away well but have trouble seeing them up close.
- Other tests may be done to determine refractive error issues in children with lazy eye. These include measuring how your child’s eyes focus on a distant object (this is called the corneal light reflex) and examining their dilated pupils through an ophthalmoscope to check for eye muscle balance problems that could affect their vision.
If glasses are necessary to correct any refractive error issues such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, they’ll need to be worn all the time by the child until they’re old enough for contact lenses to be inserted into their eyes—usually around age 12 or 13 years old.
Your child’s ophthalmologist may recommend that your child wear patching on the good eye as treatment to strengthen the weaker eye.
Your child’s ophthalmologist may recommend that your child wear patching on the good eye as treatment to strengthen the weaker eye. Patching is performed at home, and it’s important that you follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Using rigid gas permeable lenses (RGP), which are glasses with clear plastic lenses over them. The glasses are specially made for this purpose, but they don’t look like regular eyeglasses because they’re larger than usual and have no tint; nor do they provide any protection from ultraviolet light or glare from lights. The RGP lens is worn over one eye only; the other eye has a bandage contact lens placed over it each day to prevent light from reaching it while sleeping at night or during naps during the day, when both eyes will be covered by patches anyway. The goal here is for the stronger eye not to receive any stimulation while its vision is being strengthened by having nothing but darkness available to stimulate it with—darkness helps “turn up” visual signals sent by neurons in both eyes’ optic nerves so they’re more effective in carrying out their function of sending information back down into brain centers responsible for vision processing tasks such as focus control (accommodation) and image stabilization (occlusion). This method works best if done daily for 3 hours per day or longer.
Treatment options for lazy eye depend on your child’s age and the severity of their condition. If glasses are needed, they will likely be prescribed first before considering surgery options. In many cases, patching may be required as well. Your pediatrician will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your child based upon their individual situation. At Insight Vision Care, we would be happy to help you and your family with all your vision needs. Whether it’s comprehensive eye exams, eye surgery, treatment plans, eyewear, or a different need, Insight Vision Care is always here to help.