Learn About Lazy Eye

VISION THERAPY AND ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY

The eye is amazing. Did you know more than 1.9 million fibers come from the eye into the brain? Each of those fibers creates its own pathway to the brain and has its own distinct function. So when someone has a stroke or other acquired brain injury (ABI), vision is often affected.  ABIs include concussions suffered in severe sports-related hits or a car accident, as well as cerebral or vascular strokes. An ABI can affect both neurological pathways in the eye, the focal or parvocellular pathway, which is....

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SYNTONICS: CREATING BALANCE FOR THE EYES

Syntonics, or optometric phototherapy, is a form of light therapy used to treat a variety of vision problems. It is available at Family Eyecare Associates to help patients with a variety of vision problems, such as strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems and learning disorders. It has also been shown to be very effective for people who suffer from migraines.

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WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRY?

Behavioral optometry starts with the concept that vision is learned. When we’re born, we don’t know how to use our arms, legs and hands. We also don’t know how to use our eyes. We have to learn how to integrate them with the rest of our body. The brain must process what the eyes are seeing, and then it has to integrate that information with the other senses. From a behav- ioral standpoint, seeing requires a more holistic approach, getting all the senses to work together.

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LEARN ABOUT LAZY EYE

Lazy eye is a term that is often used for three different conditions. One of those conditions is ptosis, which is a droopy upper eyelid that occurs after someone suffers nerve damage. If one eye does not see as well as the other, this is called amblyopia. Most commonly, the term lazy eye is for strabismus, when the eye either turns in (esotropia) or out (exotropia). If one eye turns up, this is called hypertropia. This condition is rare.


Amblyopia causes more vision loss in children than all other causes combined. With amblyopia, the parts of the brain concerned with visual processing do not function properly. Vision is learned. In early development, a child relies more on the sense of touch to make sense of the world. Around age 3, vision begins to be the dominant sense, but the brain must learn how to see. Normally, vision is binocular, which means the eyes move and work together. This is essential for good vision. The eyes must work together with the brain. If the brain doesn’t get clear input and images from both eyes, it may decide to make things easier on itself and draw more visual information from the good eye because it focuses better. Subsequently, the brain ignores input and images from the eye that has poorer vision. Amblyopia occurs when the eyes fail to work together properly and one eye becomes more dominant. The problem originates in the brain when it does not fully acknowledge the images the amblyopic eye sees. This is called suppression. The brain perceives two mismatching images or blurry vision so it throws one image out to avoid creating double vision. This condition may

cause problems with movement perception and visual acuity. There may also be loss of depth perception. The symptoms of amblyopia are not always obvious.


Can amblyopia be treated? Although amblyopic vision is not readily corrected by either glasses or contact lenses, current vision research proves the brain can change, develop and recover from amblyopia with occupational, physical and visual therapies. This adaptive ability of the brain, which is called neuroplasticity, makes it possible to treat amblyopia at any age, even in teenage children and sometimes adults. Vision therapy offers eye exercises and other treatments for amblyopia. While patching the better-seeing eye is often recommended as a treatment protocol and is utilized with children who have amblyopia, it should be used sparingly. General consensus is to patch for only a few hours at a time. Another treatment uses atropine eye drops. These dilate the pupil and blur close-up vision in the better-seeing eye, thus encouraging the use of the eye with poor vision.


The only way to definitively diagnose amblyopia is through a comprehensive visual acuity examination. As with other conditions, early detection is best in order to get a jump on treatment and prevent vision


DR. RICK GRAEBE

Dr. Graebe received both his B.S degree in Visual Science and Doctorate of Optometry from Indiana University. He is a Behavioral Optometrist and learning expert. He has been in private practice here in the Bluegrass area for the past 32 years.

more articles by dr rick graebe