Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is partial or complete vision loss in one eye caused by abnormal visual development early in life. This eye condition is often characterized by a “lazy” eye that wanders inward or outward.
Symptoms of Lazy Eye
Symptoms of Amblyopia include:
- misalignment of the eyes, or strabismus
- eyes that don’t work together
- poor depth perception and peripheral vision
- tilting the head to see correctly
- squinting or shutting one eye
- abnormal vision screening results
Treatment of Lazy Eye
Traditionally, the treatment for amblyopia has been to correct the underlying problem and then to cover the “good” eye with a patch to encourage use of the lazy eye.
However, the downside of using a patch over the good eye is that it may be only partially successful, and it typically doesn’t work after about age eight.
New Hope: A Possible Cure
Recent research by Professor Mark Bear from the Picower Institute at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), my own undergraduate alma mater, may change this trajectory. The study showed that when an eye is deprived of normal vision the connections from that eye to the brain can become dormant.
However, animal experiments indicated that the lazy eye can be “rebooted” after a brief treatment of the retinas with a local anesthetic, and that this protocol has the potential to restore vision even in adults.
Researchers are hopeful that progress toward curing amblyopia will continue based upon these preliminary findings.