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Lazy Eye for the children by Dr. Ipsita Basu of Disha Eye Hospitals

Desk Correspondent, abptakmaa, Kolkata, 31st Aug 2019 : Ananya’s parents were a worried lot. They had noticed that their beloved ten-year- old daughter was bending her head in a particular way when she watched her favourite videos on a tablet. Were her eyes squinting? Ananya’s parents couldn’t be sure. They visited an eye-specialist. After a thorough eye check up the doctor told them that Ananya’s right eye had turned “lazy”. At first they were confused and bewildered. They had never heard of the term and could not believe how Ananya’s right eye, which looked absolutely normal to them, could be termed lazy! The eye- specialist told them that “lazy eye” is a term commonly used by paediatric ophthalmologists (paediatric means child and ophthalmologist means an eye doctor). The medical term for lazy eye is amblyopia.

Let us understand what lazy eye or amblyopia is. In plain english an eye is termed lazy when the child does not see with that eye in spite of wearing glasses. Now you could say that maybe the glasses have not been given the correct “power” which is preventing the eye from seeing. But even when the “power” of the eye has been calculated correctly, the eye may not see at all. This is when the eye is termed “lazy”.

To understand this further let us look at an analogy. The eye functions like a mobile phone camera. Both are capable of taking pictures continuously. The phone camera takes clear selfies when it focusses well. But the pictures turn out to be blurred if it cannot focus properly. All pictures are then automatically processed by the camera and the best selfie is selected! Similarly the brain processes only those pictures which are clear. When the child does not wear the correct glasses, that eye fails to focus clearly. It repeatedly clicks blurred pictures and sends them to the brain. The brain in turn rejects these images from the “faulty” eye and only forwards the images from the better eye. Thus the “faulty” eye inspite of its ability to “see” cannot see! This is when the eye becomes lazy. So lazy eye is actually a problem of visual processing rather than a problem of the eyeball itself.

Surprisingly, if detected early in childhood, “lazy eye” can be corrected completely. A lazy eye simply needs to do more work! The “power” of the lazy eye is accurately corrected so that when proper glasses are worn, that eye can focus accurately and send clear pictures to the brain. However, the brain is already tuned to ignoring the images from the lazy eye and processes only the images from the “better eye”!

What do you think the eye doctor does so that the brain is forced to see the images from the “lazy eye”? The doctor covers the better eye.This forces the brain to recognise images from the lazy eye.

In the beginning Ananya would be very unhappy when her parents covered her right eye with a pirate’s patch. She couldn’t see anything properly. But slowly, over weeks of encouragement by her parents, she could watch her favourite videos through her right eye. And her head posture became normal. After a few months she didn’t have to wear the patch, but just normal glasses. Wasn’t that a simple solution to a complex problem?

A simple treatment and a lot of encouragement is all that is needed to treat a lazy eye. Haven’t we all heard of the phrase “prevention is better than cure”? Lazy eye

can also be prevented. Encouraging all children to have an eye check-up before they start their junior school (class 1 or 5 yrs of age) and giving them the correct powered glasses is the first step to preventing development of lazy eyes. Publicity : Sagittarius Communications.

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