Lazy eye is the common term used for the condition called Amblyopia. It affects approximately 1 to 5 % of the population. In this type of visual disorder, there is a poor transmitting of the visual stimulus via the optic nerve to the brain for an extensive period of time or the brain fails to react to the stimulus received and does not process the received impulses. Thus the vision of the affected eye is impaired resulting in blurry and hazy vision.
Since it usually affects only one eye, the brain depends on just the unaffected eye, leaving the amblyopic eye out of function. Besides surgical correction, today ophthalmologists resort to a number of eye exercises for lazy eye that improve the eye muscle co-ordination and harmony.
Etiology of Amblyiopia (lazy eye) – Amblyopic is not related to any organic neurological causative factor. It is understood to be a result of error in development of the brain due to which the images received are not processed correctly. Thus the affected eye creates blurred vision. In most cases only a single eye is affected, and the individual shows signs and symptoms since early age. If detected early and treated, one can avoid severe visual disability.
Types of lazy eye – A lazy eye can be easily provoked by a few direct causative factors leading to crossing or turning out of the eye.
1. Strabismus is one of the most common causes where there is a difference or an imbalance in the muscle causing positional disturbance or misalignment of the eyes. Thus the two eye move in disharmony and look at two different angles or object.
2. Anisometropia (refractive error) – Anisometropia is also a common causative factor that leads to developing lazy eye. Refractive error, can be of myopic (short sighted), or hypermetropic (long-sighted) origin. Refractive error or anisometropic type of ambylopia can also occur due to astigmatism.
3. Stimulus deprivation amblyopia – Sometimes an eye injury or a case of congenital cataract in an infant, or an eye disease, ptosis, glaucoma, etc can cause reduced vision of an eye, which is more of extrinsic origin.
Treatment for Lazy eye
1. Patching –
Patching is one of the most widely practiced exercises that promise results. Amblyopia is called as lazy eye, as the affected eye becomes lazy and stops receiving impulses and stimulus. Correcting lazy eye means forcing upon using the inactive bad eye. To rectify and treat amblyopia, the eye with the blurred vision must be daily subjected to work.
For this, the eye with the correct vision must be patched to block vision, and thus the brain has to rely on the affected eye to receive images. Thus the affected eye is forced concentrate and focus on a target. The clear eye is functionally rested for a limited period, so that the lazy eye takes effort to function.
Experienced doctors hints that the number of hours does not matter. Patching for just 2 hours offers the same effect that patching for 6 hours and more does. Even though the vision of the affected eye has improved, it is beneficial to wear the patch routinely for a long time. Thus daily eye exercises for lazy eye are important.
2. Palming – Cover both the eyes with your palm for about 10 to 20 minutes. Cup the palms over the eyes so the light does not permeate within. Relax and breathe deep. Palming exercise can be performed several times in a day and is understood to strengthen the muscle of the eyes for correct positioning.
3. Video games exercise – One of the best and the easiest way to initiate eye exercises for lazy eye is playing video games. Video games are interesting for children and the challenges keep them glued to the screen. Playing these games like “patching the clear eye” will not feel as stressful as otherwise, as lazy eye will no more be forcefully working, but rather simply concentrating on solving the puzzles or playing games instead.
There are also coloring pages that you can shop online. These are designed specifically to improve visual impairments and offer the needed eye exercises for the lazy eye.
4. Atropine eye drop – Atropine eye drops are also used as a vision therapy. Atropine is used to blur the vision of the normal eye, so that the lazy eye has to work more. However, atropine has its share of side effects and discomfort.
5. Focusing eye exercise – Focusing exercise is a simple exercise and for the best results choose outdoors. Choose three different objects at different distance. Focus on the nearest object till you can see clearly, and change your focus on the next object that is further away. When you can see the 2nd object clearly, shift focus on the distant object and come back to the nearest object. Pick objects from a minimum of 3 feet distance and onwards. You can perform this exercise twice a day.
Conclusion – Several studies on Ambylopia has concluded eye exercises for lazy eye is surely the simplest and easiest way to tackle a stubborn lazy eye. But one must also be aware that only patching or other exercises does not help.
It is important to attend to the underlying root cause too. Those with myopia or hypermetropia must be treated and prescribed glasses or contact lenses. Conditions like ptosis (drooping eye lids) and cataract call for surgery.