South Carolina Ophthalmologists on Amblyopia: An Overview of Amblyopia, “lazy eye”

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Transcript:

Guest: Dr. Edward Wilson Jr. – Pediatric Ophthalmology

Host: Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatrist

Announcer:

Welcome to an MUSC Health Podcast.

Dr. Linda Austin:

I am Dr. Linda Austin and I am talking today with Dr. Edward Wilson. Dr. Wilson, you are a Pediatric Ophthalmologist and I would imagine one of the conditions you treat most often is lazy eye or amblyopia. Can you explain what that condition is?

Dr. Edward Wilson Jr.:

Amblyopia more commonly known to public by lazy eye. Amblyopia is a reduction in vision that is not due to a structural problem with the eye. It’s due to a bad visual experience and the types of amblyopia. One of the most common is because of strabismus or crossed eyes. So, if the eyes become misaligned often one eye is chosen for viewing and the other one is suppressed or turned off by the brain. Another common type is when one eye is farsighted and the other eye is not. So, the young brain will suppress the blurred image and continue to use the eye that doesn’t have as much farsightedness.

Dr. Linda Austin:

How would a parent become suspicious that their child might have a lazy eye?

Dr. Edward Wilson Jr.:

Well, we advocate vision screenings in schools and in the pediatrician’s office. So, we hope that in the medical home, in the office of their pediatrician that they will ask for a vision screening if it’s not already being done; that’s one way. If the parent sees an eye turned in or turned out even if it’s off and on, that’s another sign that perhaps that eye is weak and has amblyopia.

Dr. Linda Austin:

How is that treated?

Dr. Edward Wilson Jr.:

We treat the amblyopia first by seeing if glasses are needed because glasses might even the score and help to correct the amblyopia even without any additional treatment, but if glasses are not indicated or if they don’t equalize the vision, the most common treatment is to patch with a sticky patch on the skin, to patch the good eye part of the day, so that the weaker eye can be used. Now, more recently, we have been using an alternative treatment that does not require a patch and it’s with a drop called atropine. Atropine is a drop -- it goes in the good eye at bedtime, once a day and what it does is it temporarily paralyzes focusing. So, that eye is like a 50-year-old that needs a bifocal, but didn’t bring their bifocal. So, it gives the lazy eye an advantage for up-close viewing. The good thing about the drop is that it works and the child can’t pull the patch off and short-circuit the treatment. So, for parents who struggle with keeping a patch on a child because every time they turn away, the child peeks and force the patch off. We found that the atropine drop even though it takes a little longer for the vision to equalize is a great alternative that can be used with a lot less frustration for the parent.

Dr. Linda Austin:

Why do you give the drop at bedtime?

Dr. Edward Wilson Jr.:

Well, the dr


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