The irreversible consequences of not treating a lazy eye

Dr. Garcia de Oteyza is a leading specialist in Ophthalmology in Barcelona. In addition to his career as a physician, Dr. García de Oteyza is a regular lecturer, speaker and even editor of scientific journals on his specialty. After having spent seventeen years as Head of the Ophthalmology Service at the Institut Dexeus, he currently dedicates his professional activity to his own private practice.

Most frequent visual defects in Pediatric Ophthalmology

Among the most frequent childhood visual diseases, hyperopia, myopia, astigmatism and strabismus stand out. Strabismus detection is essential to avoid ambioplia, commonly known as lazy eye.

When the first symptoms of any of these defects appear, it is important to visit an ophthalmology specialist as soon as possible, since there is a direct relationship between early detection and the possibilities of therapeutic success: parents should know that a lazy eye that is not treated before the age of seven years has the consequence of being irreversible for the rest of life.

Detecting ophthalmologic pathologies in time

There are warning signs that can help parents know that their child does not see well. For example, if a child gets too close to the television, twists his head to fix his eyesight or has problems relating to the outside world.

Years ago, I developed a test, available to parents, in order to facilitate the detection of visual disorders in children because they can often go unnoticed if they allow the child to have regular vision.

Are medical check-ups important?

A first ophthalmologist check-up is recommended at three or four years of age, as long as no anomaly is detected earlier. If the parents suffer from a refractive error, early detection is important because these pathologies are often hereditary and the sooner the ophthalmologist is visited and corrective lenses are placed, the better, since it will be easier to solve the problem.

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If the information coming from the outside world to the retina is not sharp enough, the brain receives the signal badly and “gets used” to seeing badly. If this continues for years and conditions are not created for the brain to “see well”, vision will be impaired throughout life. Binocular vision, like visual acuity, is learned over the years. This learning process culminates around the age of seven, which means that if the brain has not learned to see well by that age, it will be difficult to correct these deficiencies later on.

How do screens affect vision?

The continuous use of devices with screens such as cell phones, tablets and video games causes visual fatigue, with eye irritation, tearing and sometimes even blurred vision. This is mainly due to dry eyes caused by not blinking.

Children with an uncorrected visual defect may also have other symptoms such as headaches after a while of using the device. Therefore, the general recommendation is to dose the use by parents to avoid such problems.