My child has a "lazy eye" (Amblyopia) PART 2: What can I do besides "patching"?

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Last week in Part 1 of this series, I provided some background on what Amblyopia ("lazy eye") is and how it's commonly treated by placing a patch over the better seeing eye. We also discussed some benefits as well as the flaws.

The benefits of patching include:

  • Better visual acuity

  • Possible improvement in depth perception and binocular vision

The flaws include:

  • Patching is difficult for the child - emotionally, cognitively, and developmentally (if you don't believe me, try patching one of your eyes for a day, let alone leaving the 'bad eye' to fend for itself).

  • The success gained from patching (namely, better distance visual acuity measured during your follow up appointments) does not often hold up over time. We showed that by year three, almost half the amblyopic patients do not maintain their improved vision after stopping the eye patch therapy.

In summary, while patching the "good eye" has been most common treatment for amblyopes, it might not always be the best treatment.

Is there a better treatment than patching the eye? If so, what?

I have been an Optometrist for 12 years now.

I have seen hundreds of patients with Amblyopia and I have to admit, I don't think I've prescribed eye patch therapy for more than a handful. Yes you read that correctly. Probably about five.

Certainly most Optometrists reading that would think, "Wow. Aside from prescribing the appropriate corrective lenses, eye patching is the only thing I've prescribed my Amblyopic patients for years, and even decades!"

I realize I'm going against what is considered to be the standard practice, but patients come to my eye clinic seeking different options. And I will do my best to help them with what I know.