Fixing lazy eye

By • Published: May 20th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Finally, there’s something that might get a “lazy eye” working.

Technically known as amblyopia [am-blee-ope-ia], lazy eye affects about three percent of the children born in the United States.

It occurs when a child’s visual system does not develop properly. The eye and the brain do not work in sync, causing vision in one eye to be reduced.

For decades, the only treatment was to place an eyepatch atop the “strong” eye, which forces the so-called lazy eye into action, thus improving its fitness.

A twist on that therapy recently emerged. Instead of an eyepatch, eyedrops are used to blur the vision of the unaffected eye.

Either approach works best in children under ten.

People who aren’t diagnosed until they are older… a frequent occurrence in developing countries… usually find that a patch can’t mend the problem.

But now researchers say a very simple visual task may help.

In a pilot clinical trial involving twenty-year-olds at a Beijing hospital, twenty-eight out of thirty patients showed dramatic visual improvements after following a simple routine of eye exercises for ten days.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are so new that patients seeking the treatment won’t find it at their doctors’ offices.

The University of Southern California neuroscientist who led the study said the technique still needs to be refined and tested in more people.

But the future is finally looking brighter for people bothered by lazy eyes.