Ophthalmologists at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone may recommend nonsurgical treatments for anisometropia, in which a child’s eyes have different degrees of farsightedness or nearsightedness; and strabismus, or crossed eyes. The younger your child is, the easier it is to reverse lazy eye with these treatments.
If your child has anisometropia, eyeglasses may be enough to reverse the condition. His or her doctor may recommend that your child wear glasses until age 10 or 12, when eye development is complete.
If eyeglasses alone can’t correct lazy eye caused by anisometropia, or if your child has strabismus, your child’s ophthalmologist may recommend occlusion therapy.
The goal of occlusion therapy is to restrict use of the healthy eye by covering it. The doctor may recommend using a soft patch with sticky edges that adheres to the skin around the eyes.
This therapy makes the amblyopic or lazy eye work harder and become stronger. It also prevents the brain from ignoring the affected eye. If this therapy is started early enough, vision in the weaker eye can improve and may even become as good as that in the healthy eye.
Depending on your child’s age and the severity of the lazy eye, he or she may undergo occlusion therapy anywhere from two to six hours a day. Therapy usually continues until vision in the affected eye is as good as the healthy eye or the treatment no longer has an effect.
Your child’s doctor monitors his or her progress during follow-up visits, which typically occur every three months. Your child may notice improvements in vision within a few weeks, but the desired results can take much longer. Once he or she reaches his or her vision goal, the patch is not needed.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get children to participate in occlusion therapy. They may become irritable and remove the patch. However, they often notice the benefits of treatment and can become more cooperative. Our doctors can teach parents tactics for encouraging a child to leave the patch in place.