Don’t be angry, but sometimes doctors with best intentions maintain a mindset of medical conservatism, holding onto old traditional beliefs about treatment even when it is not consistent with modern research. You are not alone if the following scenario is what you have experienced regarding your teenager with lazy eye. But on a positive note, now there is solid scientific evidence that corrects the well intended misinformed.
If your teenager has lazy eye (Amblyopia), you may have been told, even by your doctor, that there is nothing more that can be done to help. It may have gone something like this, “Sorry, what is lost is lost. If this would only have been caught early or if he would have worn his eye patch like he was supposed to when he was young it could have been helped. But now you will just have to accept the fact that your teen has poor eyesight and poor depth perception because the window of time, called the critical period, has past.”
Now how does that make you feel? Like most loving parents, you begin to feel guilty and then a sense of worry. A guilty feeling because your teenager is left with a disabling eye problem that, had it been treated earlier, could have prevented. A feeling of worry because now, among other things, your teen is starting to drive a car and with untreatable defective sight and poor depth perception!
But, what may be more upsetting to know is that this information you have been given about the critical period, which still hangs-on in many physician circles today, is based on outdated information that was derived from research done in 1960s using occlusion models on cats. Yes, the information you have been given about the critical period is based on animal studies 50 years ago!
And yet here is the silver lining. While it is true that there is a critical period for cats, modern research studies demonstrate that age is not a barrier when using the latest and advanced models of vision development and rehabilitation on humans. Simply put, teenagers and even older adults with Amblyopia can be successfully treated as long as the treatment utilizes binocular vision development and rehabilitation as the primary mode of treatment. Click here
Our patient Emily says it best in her story.
To obtain an expanded collection of helpful in depth VisionHelp Blog posts on Amblyopia, including scholarly published studies in medical journals, click here!
To find a doctor who provides advanced treatment for Amblyopia go to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development website at www.covd.org and click on the Doctor Locator and search for a doctor nearest you.
Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D., FCOVD