Blurry vision that should be caught and corrected before age 7 is what pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Pik Sha Chan-Uy of Pacific Eye and Laser Institute calls “lazy eye” or amblyopia. “Lazy eye is blurred vision that is correctable up to 7 or 8 years old,” she states. “It pertains to blurred vision that, even with the correct glasses, you can’t get 20/20 vision.”
Amblyopia happens when the eye doesn’t transmit vision to the brain properly. For most cases, only one eye has the problem, so the brain adapts and starts relying heavily on the good eye. After some time, the brain shuts off the use of the bad eye, resulting to amblyopia.
The fact that most cases involve only one eye emphasizes the need for vigilance on the part of parents. “If the blurred vision is in one eye,” warns the ophthalmologist, “parents will never suspect a thing! That’s why they should bring their kids for a vision screening when they turn 3 or 3½ years—more so if parents have glasses.”
Lazy eye needs to be diagnosed early so that something can be done about it. The treatment for amblyopia involves patching. This means covering the good eye to force the child to use the bad eye. Correction glasses can also help.
Unlike amblyopia, strabismus is an eye problem that’s pretty obvious! “Strabismus is eye deviation, what we call banlag or duling,” explains Dr. Chan-Uy. “This is easier to catch because parents will bring their kids right away when they see that the eyes don’t look in the same direction.”
To treat eye deviation, doctors may give glasses, recommend some eye exercises, or decide on surgery.