Can Amblyopia Be Corrected?

A young boy wearing an eye patch to treat amblyopia.

How Vision Therapy Can Help Correct Amblyopia in Children and Adults

Amblyopia, commonly known as "lazy eye," affects nearly every aspect of your life. Reading, playing sports or even concentrating on a task for more than a few minutes become much more difficult when your brain ignores images from one eye. Fortunately, it's possible to correct the condition through vision therapy, even if you're an adult.

What Causes Amblyopia?

Amblyopia can occur as a result of:

  • Strabismus. Strabismus (crossed eyes) occurs when the eyes are misaligned. The misalignment causes the brain to receive different information from each eye, which makes it difficult to produce a single, clear image. Eventually, the brain may "turn off" input from one eye and favor the other eye. Although surgery may improve the alignment of the eyes, poor vision can still be a factor. Once your brain ignores light impulses received from one eye, it won't recognize them again without a little help.
  • Prescription Issues. Amblyopia can occur if the visual acuity (sharpness) in one eye is much better than in the other eye. You may also be at risk of developing lazy eye if you're farsighted and need very strong prescription lenses.
  • Cataract. A congenital cataract, one that's present at birth, may also affect the information the brain receives from the eyes.

What Are the Symptoms of Amblyopia?

If you have amblyopia, you may experience:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Difficulty seeing in three dimensions (3D)
  • Poor hand-eye coordination and depth perception
  • Clumsiness
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Trouble seeing words clearly unless you cover one eye, squint or tilt your head
  • Poor academic performance
  • Fatigue when reading
  • Difficulty concentrating

Can My Condition Be Treated?

You may have been told that there's no hope for you if you're an adult who suffers from amblyopia. For many years, eye doctors and researchers believed that vision could only be improved if you received treatment for the condition during childhood. In fact, it was once believed that your brain couldn't adapt and change much once you became a teenager.

We know that's not true today. Although amblyopia treatment is most effective when begun in early childhood, teens and adults can experience significant improvements in vision with vision therapy.

Take Sue Barry, for example. Dubbed "Stereo Sue" by neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, Sue spent much of her life viewing the world in only two dimensions due to amblyopia. After beginning vision therapy, she was finally able to see in 3D. Therapy spurred her brain to form new neural connections that made 3D vision possible.

In a study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley, adults who had amblyopia noticed an improvement in both 3D depth perception and visual acuity after vision therapy. During the study, they played video games while their "good" eyes were patched.

Vision therapy is also an excellent option for young children who have amblyopia, as it can reduce or eliminate the need to patch the good eye or use drops to blur the vision in the good eye.

What is Vision Therapy and How Can It Help Me?

Vision therapy improves the connection between your brain and eyes. During therapy, you'll participate in games and activities designed to convince your brain to recognize the impulses from your "bad" eye.

Video games may be part of your therapy. One game specifically designed for people who have amblyopia takes advantage of virtual reality technology. Before you play the game, your goggles will be adjusted to decrease the signal strength in your good eye. As a result, your brain will pay more attention to impulses received from the bad eye.

If you have amblyopia, vision therapy can truly change your life. You may finally be able to see clearly, catch a ball, read a few chapters in a book without becoming tired, appreciate 3D movies and judge distances when driving more accurately.

Would you like to find out if you're a good candidate for vision therapy? Contact our office to schedule a comprehensive vision examination.

Sources:

The New Yorker: Stereo Sue, 6/11/06

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/06/19/stereo-sue

Journal of Vision: Action Video Games as a Treatment of Amblyopia in Children: A Pilot Study of a Novel, Child-Friendly Action game, 8/14

https://jov.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2144538

American Optometric Association: Video-Game Vision Therapy, 4/16

http://www.aoa.org/news/clinical-eye-care/video-game-vision-therapy

Review of Optometry: Managing Ambylopia: Can Vision Therapy Cut It?, 10/15/17

https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/article/managing-amblyopia-can-vision-therapy-cut-it

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Testimonial

  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
    Michael L.