Question: How is amblyopia (lazy eye) treated, and what are the risks/benefits of these treatment strategies?
Answer: Patching is the mainstay of amblyopia treatment. The child is encouraged to wear a patch on the dominant eye, the eye that sees better, to allow the eye that doesn't see as well time for improvement. Activities that are encouraged while the patch is on the dominant eye include intense visual activities at near. This may include drawing or coloring in a coloring book, or a child may like to build with small building blocks, or maybe even playing a hand-held video game.
Another therapy that we employ in the amblyopia is atrophying, which is a strong dilating drop that is instilled into the dominant eye causing a blur of the vision of the better-seeing eye. This allows time for the amblyopic or poorly-seeing eye to catch up and improve the vision. The risks associated with amblyopia treatment include the rare risk of inducing amblyopia in the previously well-seeing eye. So appropriate follow-up with the pediatric ophthalmologist is essential to prevent this risk.