Optometrists are most concerned about a condition called amblyopia or lazy eye, and strabismus or turned eye. Failure to detect these conditions at an early age can result in a permanent reduction in a child's vision and limit potential career options requiring good working sight in both eyes.
Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is the loss or lack of development of central vision in one eye that is unrelated to any eye health problem and is not correctable with lenses unless detected earlier. Lazy eye is often associated with crossed-eyes or a large difference in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes. It can result from a failure of being able to use both eyes together. It usually develops before the age of 6, and it does not affect side vision.
Early diagnosis is the most important step to increase the chance for a complete recovery. This is one reason why eye-bar optometrists recommend that children have a comprehensive eye examination by the age of 6 months and again at age 3. Lazy eye will not go away on its own. If not diagnosed until the pre-teen, teen or adult years, treatment takes longer and is often less effective.
During a comprehensive eye exam, eye-bar optometrists will test eye co-ordination including eye alignment, movement, and tracking, and perception of motion and depth.
Strabismus (turned eye) and amblyopia (lazy eye) must be identified and treated in early childhood to allow proper visual development. Treatment for lazy eye may include a combination of prescription lenses, prisms, vision therapy and eye patching. Vision therapy teaches the two eyes how to work together, which helps prevent lazy eye from reoccurring. Your eye doctor may suggest treatment that also includes watching 3D movies or playing 3D video games, which force the eyes to work together at the highest level. (FUN!)
p.s. the adorable eye patches in the photo are from this brilliant etsy store created by a mother whose daughter needed to wear an eye patch for two hours a day.