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How Do Doctors Fix a Lazy Eye?

Doctors can perform surgery to repair muscles around the eye that are causing lazy eye.
Identifying a child's lazy eye by age six will allow a greater chance of correcting it.
Early symptoms of lazy eye can be remedied with eye drops.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2014
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In most cases, treatment to fix a lazy eye begins before a person turns 17 years old. Adults can be treated when the eyes are misaligned, but treatment may prove less successful for correcting vision from the problem eye. Usually, eye doctors, called optometrists, use methods to retrain the eye to see properly and encourage the brain to provide optimal vision from the two eyes working together. In some cases, surgery is used to fix a lazy eye.

Treatment for this visual problem often includes the use of an eye patch. A lazy eye is usually capable of seeing properly but fails to do so. As such, a doctor typically has his patient cover his working eye in an effort to retrain the eye to work once again. Often, a person must wear the eye patch for a couple of hours daily, but severe cases may require a person to wear it for much longer. After a few months to a year, a person's vision in the lazy eye may improve significantly.

There is an alternative to wearing an eye patch for some patients. Doctors may prescribe eye drops that contain a medication called atropine instead of a patch. This drug works to make the vision in the person's strong eye temporarily blurry, which encourages the lazy eye to work harder.

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Patching of the eye doesn’t always lead to permanent results. Though it can help fix a lazy eye, the eye may again develop visual problems once patching is complete. As such, doctors often recommend visual therapy as well. This usually incorporates eye patching and includes eye exercises to retrain the eye and the brain. For example, an exercise might involve walking across a balance beam while wearing special lenses.

Corrective lenses are often used in treatment well. For example, an eye doctor may prescribe corrective lenses to deal with problems like nearsightedness and farsightedness. The brain of a person with a lazy eye suppresses sight in one eye. It does this because the stronger eye cannot focus properly with the other eye. Providing corrective eye glasses or contact lenses can improve vision in the lazy eye, encouraging it to work for proper focus with the other eye.

Surgical treatment is often used in combination with patching and vision therapy or by itself. Usually, doctors use surgery to fix a lazy eye by repairing muscles that have allowed the eyes to cross or turn away from each other. If a person also has other physical issues that contribute to his sight problems, such as cataracts, doctors may perform surgery to correct these as well.

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