In July Sally attended the Australiasian College of Behavioural Optometrist Annual Conference. It was two days full of new research and updates and she came back full of enthusiasm for her Vision Therapy work.
One speaker was Dr Sue Cotter, Professor of Optometry at the Southern California College of Optometry. Dr Cotter gave an update on eye patching to treat 'lazy' eyes. Lazy eye is the common term for amblyopia, poor vision which occurs in childhood. Amblyopia is often due to a difference in focus between the eyes, when one eye has clearer vision. Vision in the good eye develops normally while the poor eye lags behind.
Many people are familiar with amblyopia treatment, an eye patch covering the good eye. In the past patches were recommended for long periods each day. New research has shown a different approach which can give better results, especially for binocular 3D vision development.
Now we start with prescription glasses alone and closely monitor vision. We are watching for an improvement in the size of letters the weak eye is able to read on our chart. Research has shown glasses alone can be as effective as patching the good eye for 2 hours each day. This is very positive; a young child is more receptive to wearing glasses than an eye patch. If glasses alone do not improve vision enough, then eye patching is still recommended. But by this time the weak eye has improved clarity, which helps children accept wearing a patch.
Newer treatments aim to stop the good eye dominating, and allowing binocular vision to develop as fully as possible. Patching does not help this process but we can enhance binocular vision with Vision Therapy. Other options include Virtual Reality games.
Dr Cotter also spoke about treating amblyopia in children older than 7 years of age. It was previously thought that after this age intervention would not have any positive effect. Evidence has shown there is still time to have a positive effect. Improvements in vision may be slower in older children so we still want to detect problems early.
If you have any questions about children's vision development, or would like to know more about Behavioural Optometry please contact us.