A child’s lazy eye
A lazy eye in childhood is not just an eye that wanders inwards or outwards and where the eyes appear not to work together (that is a squint or strabismus), but it is an eye that does not have good vision. With a lazy eye, a child’s brain can suppress one eye entirely, so that normal depth (3-D) vision does not occur.
A lazy eye (amblyopia) in a child is assessed by an orthoptist working with the paediatric ophthalmologist, Ms Naz Raoof at Clinica London. Ms Raoof is a Children’s eye doctor as well as a neuro-ophthalmologist and adult squint surgeon. If there is a lazy eye, there will be abnormal results on the vision screening tests done by the orthoptist Joe McQuillan or Gina Harris. Unfortunately, a lazy eye is not evident without an eye examination being done. In other words, there is not always a squint, squinting or shutting one eye, double vision or head tilting. Orthoptic examination is needed to diagnose this most accurately.
If you think your child has an eye that is wandering in or out at any time, particularly in the first four years of life, it is important to get a vision check by a qualified clinical practitioner experienced in looking after children, called an orthoptist, and have your child seen by a paediatric ophthalmologist. A vision check is particularly important if there is a family history of eye conditions, squint, lazy eye, or cataracts. We recommend at Clinica London that if you think your child has got a squint, they should be assessed by Naz Raoof as early as possible because then a diagnosis can be made and treatment can be started to prevent the lazy eye getting worse.
I still see patients who are adults now who never had the opportunity to have their eyes examined and a potentially lazy eye diagnosed when they were a child. This has to be avoided for our children growing up now.
A lazy eye can interfere with school work and your child’s general development and can make the child timid if they cannot see well from one eye. Sports will be difficult if it requires binocular (using two eyes) vision. Certain professions will be closed to them as adults if one eye is lazy.
Treated early, amblyopia can be prevented. A lazy eye can be treated if detected early enough and the correct treatment started.