Amblyopia is very common in adults, with a US prevalence ranging between 1% and 4%.

Lazy eye or amblyopia can be treated for patients of all ages, including adults, however unlike with children, adult lazy eye is a much more complex condition that requires a thorough evaluation before determining if treatment is appropriate.

What is a lazy eye?

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a condition where the vision cannot be corrected to 20/20 on the eye chart. Unlike many eye conditions, amblyopia is a problem with how the brain perceives and interprets the information coming from the amblyopic eye. Most often, it affects one eye, but in rare cases, both eyes can be affected.

What are the most common symptoms of lazy eye?

The symptoms of amblyopia are not always obvious. The condition often goes undetected until a functional vision exam is performed on the patient.

Patients with amblyopia may:

  • Frequently bump into things on one side.
  • Experience a significant difference in nearsightedness or farsightedness between your eyes.
  • Prefer one side of the body over the other.
  • Have crossed eyes.
  • Have a droopy eyelid.
  • Squint a lot or close one eye.
  • Frequently tilt their head to one side.

Is it difficult to treat lazy eye in adults?

The treatment of amblyopia in adults definitely poses some complex challenges. First, it is important to determine the severity of the amblyopia through a thorough evaluation in order to determine the cause of the amblyopia and the prognosis for treatment for adults. When treating adults suffering from amblyopia, a functional optometrist must also take the patient's functional demands into consideration. It depends on what findings come back from the comprehensive examination or functional examination as to whether they need to consider all the other options, including surgery, in coordination with the ophthalmologist.

Research suggests that vision therapy, eye surgery, and visual perceptual training can all improve acuity, depth perception, and vergence. However for adults with amblyopia it is critical to assess the full picture to understand what treatment modality will provide the best results.

What role does brain plasticity play in treating amblyopia?

The brain has the amazing quality of plasticity, which means it can adapt and be trained to become stronger/perform new functions indefinitely. It is particularly relevant to the treatment of amblyopia, in which the brain and the visual pathways can be trained to work together as a team without suppressing the lazy eye. The principle of plasticity does not only apply in childhood, but also in adulthood, yielding good results for adults. But just because an adult can also improve visual function through neuro plasticity does not mean that therapy is the right fit for every adult amblyopic patient. Without a more careful approach to treating adults with lazy eye, therapy can sometimes lead to other symptoms. At our Los Angeles functional vision center, we spend time with each adult amblyopic patient to fully assess their visual function in order to better guide our patients on the appropriate and most effective treatment option.

Access top-quality eye care for an eye exam for lazy eye at our well-established optometry clinic in Bellflower, serving patients from the surrounding areas including Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles. Call (562) 925-6591 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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