Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lazy Eyes and the Lazy Days of Summer

Good afternoon, everyone! It's Fourth of July weekend. The heart of summertime! I think some of you know how much I love summertime.

That said, sometimes even the optimist optometrist has difficult situations in her life. She was getting kind of upset about them, but then read something that reminded her of why it's important to just cherish each moment that we have in our lives. Even the crappy moments. Because even with the crappiest of moments, you are still alive and breathing and here, and that is a very precious gift. Also same thing she was reading said that it's actually okay to have bad times, because without difficult situations to overcome, you would never truly learn compassion and understanding.

The optimist optometrist is attempting to better learn compassion, and is remembering to be thankful for each moment we have. She is trying to be here, live in the moment, and appreciate each moment.

Okay enough of the sappy junk! I am very blessed to have 3 wonderful siblings. One of them lives in Vermont and apparently has a number of friends with "weird eye conditions." So thought I would write a post or two about them. The first post will be about... (drumroll please)... Lazy eyes! Not the kind that sit on the couch and never get a job. We are talking about amblyopic (ooh, big optometry word) eyes in this post!

So what the heck is amblyopia? Basically, amblyopia means that, even with glasses or contacts, the eye cannot be corrected to 20/20. There are different reasons for amblyopia. One reason is something called strabismus, or when an eye turns in or out. Sunshine's friend has strabismic amblyopia. Another kind of amblyopia arises when one eye has a much higher glasses prescription than the other eye. This is called refractive amblyopia, and can be caused by nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.

Most of the time amblyopia is discovered in childhood, but not always. This is one reason why it's important for all you parents out there to make sure you have your kid's vision checked. Like I've said before, we optometrists are SO NICE, so you should come see us! You'll be glad you did.

So, let's say we discover amblyopia at your eye exam. Depending on the type of amblyopia, we may recommend:

1. Glasses or contact lenses: One of the most important things when treating amblyopia is to make sure we have accurate correction for each eye. We may recommend contact lenses rather than glasses if there is a very large difference in the prescription between the two eyes.

2. Vision Therapy: We can strengthen lazy eye muscles by putting them through a boot camp of sorts. There are a number of different activities that can help amblyopia. If you visit an optometrist that specializes in vision therapy, they will be happy to make a plan for you, just like a personal trainer would. (Sidebar: My friend and I recently started using a personal trainer to whip us in to shape. She is awesome. She reminds us of the Biggest Loser coaches).

3. Prism in glasses: This doesn't necessarily treat amblyopia, but if you are having double vision due to an eye turn, we can put these cool light-bending prisms in your glasses so you only see one image rather than two.

4. Patching: Yes, we still patch kids when it is indicated. Basically, we have the patient put a patch over the good eye. This makes that lazy eye work harder. Similar way to do this would be to use a strong dilating drop on the good eye, so that the lazy eye works harder. This is more successful if the patient uses the patch when doing near activities (coloring, using a computer, etc).

So there you have it, my post on eyes that are lazy asses. The optimist part of this post is that treatment of amblyopia can lead to some pretty cool stuff, like clearer vision, better depth perception, and a happier person overall.

Hope you kids have a very fun and safe Fourth of July!!! More posts to come soon!

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to substitute medical advice from your doctor. Also, sorry there are not as many pictures on this post; need to be in line with the copyright laws. Thanks!