While amblyopia is most often associated with children, adults can also experience this visual condition — especially if it went undiagnosed during your childhood. In amblyopia, your brain relies on visual signals from one eye preferentially to the other eye. It's not caused by a defect in the eyes themselves. This leads to poor binocular vision and causes problems with depth perception.
If you suffer from poor depth perception, if you have glasses or contact lenses where the prescription for one eye is much stronger than the other or if you sometimes experience double vision while reading, you may have amblyopia. Since amblyopia can cause difficulty driving due to poor depth perception and can cause frequent headaches while reading, treating your amblyopia can significantly improve your quality of life.
Treatments for adult amblyopia are a recent development — medical professionals believed that amblyopia could only be corrected during childhood. Treatment for amblyopia involves correcting the visual cortex so that it correctly relies on input from both eyes equally. Although treatment takes longer than it does in children, adults still retain the neuroplasticity necessary to effect these changes in the brain. Here is how amblyopia is treated in adults.
Computer-Aided Vision Therapy
Your vision specialist can provide you with proprietary software packages that retrain your visual cortex so that your brain relies equally on both eyes and does not favor one eye over the other. You will have to perform these training exercises for a number of weeks in order to correct your vision.
Transparent Eye Patching
Wearing an eyepatch over the strong eye for four to six hours during the day is a standard treatment for children with amblyopia. Over time, the visual cortex changes to rely on the weak eye more for visual input. However, this does not appear to be effective in adults.
Recent developments in adult amblyopia treatment have discovered that transparent patching of the weak eye may have a corrective effect in adults with amblyopia. The transparent patch is worn for a period of two hours while performing visual treatment exercises designed to strengthen the region of your visual cortex responsible for your weak eye.
Corrective Prescription Eyeglasses
The results from vision therapy tend to level off after a period of time, after which you will not see much improvement. At this point, your vision specialist will prescribe corrective lenses where the lens of the weak eye's prescription is stronger than the prescription of the strong eye. This will help with your binocular vision and depth perception.
Amblyopia and strabismus are both often referred to as lazy eye, but you should not confuse the two. Strabismus is a condition where one or both eyes are misaligned so that neither eye looks in the same direction. Strabismus sometimes causes amblyopia when the brain learns to rely on the stronger eye and not the other when it develops its visual centers. Strabismus can be corrected with surgery, but amblyopia can only be corrected through visual therapy.
If you feel you have a vision problem, talk with a doctor at a clinic like Macomb Eye Care Specialists.