Lazy eye concerns

What to expect when your child is diagnosed with a lazy eye

Q: My eight-year-old daughter has just been diagnosed with lazy eye. What kind of treatment options can I expect?

A: Eyes are usually not straight at birth, so until your child is four or five months old, lazy eye (sometimes called strabismus) is the rule, not the exception. After that time, misalignment should signal a trip to the doctor for an eye exam.

The treatment of lazy eye depends on the cause. Your first step is to have a thorough medical exam to rule out some of the more rare causes. Usually, lazy eye is caused by weakness in the muscles of one or both eyes, but there may be a genetic factor involved or an eye disorder, such as cataracts or far-sightedness.

Your child should be checked quickly if strabismus develops suddenly. If the diagnosis is primary strabismus, it’s important to begin therapy as soon as possible. Eyes need to work together to see a point in space; if they don’t, one eye may become weaker and its vision could deteriorate. In mild cases, glasses may be helpful. A patch on the stronger eye may also be suggested (this treatment is usually used in children under five). The last option is surgery, done by an ophthalmologist, to correct the muscles of the eye.

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