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Lazy Eye: Surgery or Therapy?

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, comes in two flavors: refractive and strabismic. When there is great disparity in acuity between refractive errors of the eyes, the stronger eye often takes over, effectively erasing the visual information sent from the weaker eye. Eventually, refractive amblyopia finds one eye doing most or all of the work, while the other eye does nothing.

In strabismic amblyopia, one or both eyes are turned, creating two separate sets of visual information resulting in double vision. The brain turns off the information from one eye to avoid seeing double, leaving the other eye without a task. It is possible, over time, to completely lose sight in the weaker or lazy eye.

Treatment of amblyopia usually involves disabling the stronger eye in some way, either patching, drops, or a contact lens, forcing the weaker eye to gradually strengthen and learn to function. Sometimes, a program of disabling is coupled with surgery to physically correct a turned eye. While that presents a cosmetic solution to the problem, the weaker eye still has not been trained to work, and will likely continue to remain weak even though aesthetically normal.

It was once thought that only children under the age of six could be treated for amblyopia, however, many adults that grew up without the benefit of treatment have undergone a successful program of visual therapy, experiencing highly successful results from combinations of glasses, patching or disabling, and vision therapy. Stories of people well into their 50s and 60s finally achieving binocular vision through vision therapy programs are well documented.

Experienced developmental ophthalmologists and developmental optometrists, like Dr. Tod Davis, can work with a variety of patients experiencing a broad range of amblyopic conditions, applying over 35 years of experience to the task for successful treatment. Amblyopic patients throughout the Eastern Virginia region should schedule an exam with the staff at Dr. Tod Davis Developmental Optometry and Vision Therapy Services to experience peak performance through a combined program of state of the art treatments.

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