A child’s visual system develops from birth until about eight years of age. During this time the eyes learn to communicate with the brain. The optic nerves that connect the eyes to the brain gradually mature. This development is a vital part of achieving good vision. Eye problems during the first eight years of life can affect this development and cause a condition called Amblyopia or lazy eye. A lazy eye is an eye with reduced sight caused by vision not developing normally in the early years of life.

Children who have one eye that is more long-sighted or more short-sighted than the other may develop a lazy eye. The weaker eye will see a blurred image resulting in the brain “switching it off” in order to avoid double vision. Children with this sort of problem will often close the weaker eye in order to see properly.

A squint (a turned eye) is the other main cause of a lazy eye. The vision from the eye with the squint may be ignored by the brain, affecting the development of the visual system. So squints and lazy eyes are closely linked and are often found together.

In the case of amblyopia, vision correction must be done as soon as possible, and vision therapy involving patching the good eye to force the weaker eye to work, goes a long way in ensuring optimal visual health.

Don’t ignore your children’s visual complaints, though some may be due to peer pressure, it’s better to be sure.