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Research Shows Adults Can Be Treated for Amblyopia

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Adult Amblyopia Treatment

Treatment options for adults with amblyopia isn’t magic. It is real and based on science. For decades there has been a belief among eye doctors that if a patient had amblyopia (AKA “lazy eye”), it was untreatable after childhood. Whether the cut-off age was 6 years old, 8 years old, or 10 years old, it was assumed that after that age, it was pointless to try to improve the vision in the “lazy” eye. It was thought that even if the vision did improve, it would just worsen again after treatment stopped.

Amblyopia is a condition in which vision is reduced in one or both eyes even with glasses on. By definition, it is not caused by disease or injury, but instead develops when the brain does not get enough visual stimulation to use both eyes together. This could be due to blurry vision for a number of reasons or misaligned eyes. Catching amblyopia early is helpful and that is one of the reason that InfantSEE exists.

For many years, the only treatment for amblyopia was occlusion therapy, where a patch is worn over the eye with better vision to force the eye with poorer vision to work. Even if you don’t have a family member who needed to wear an eye patch, you probably are familiar with the concept in popular culture. Patching can be effective if done correctly. But it is hard work and takes motivation. (See the post on #IPatch the social media support of amblyopia patients who are patching right now.)

Ann Adult AmblyopiaAs I have been posting over the years, there has been significant scientific evidence that shows that despite what was once thought, it isn’t just young children that can be treated but also older children and adults. At the bottom of this post is a quick summary of some of the research on improvement of vision in adults with amblyopia:

And it is not just in the vision science laboratory that we notice improvement in adults with amblyopia. One recent patient of ours is a 35 year old woman with refractive amblyopia due to her farsightedness in her left eye. The best she was able to see was about 20/70 in that eye. Following a few months of treatment, she was able to see about 20/30, a significant improvement. She was so happy with her rapid progress, she said. “At my age, I thought all hopes of better vision were gone but after my vision therapy treatment I have seen a significant improvement in my vision!”

One adult patient with amblyopia said, “At my age, I thought all hopes of better vision were gone but after my vision therapy treatment I have seen a significant improvement in my vision!”

Why, despite the research and success in the therapy room, does the belief that “nothing can be done” after a certain age persist? Susan Barry, PhD (AKA Stereo Sue) does a great job of answering that here, but the simple answer is that change takes time and doctors are very slow to change such a prominent belief as this.

Treatment for adult amblyopia is complicated and does take effort on the part of the doctor and patient. Treatment may involve traditional occlusion (patching) with visually stimulating activities, but could also include the use of special glasses or contact lenses and more modern techniques that involve the use of both eyes together (known as MFBF) and also the Virtual Reality based Vivid Vision system.

That being said, treatment for amblyopia is difficult and there may be significant reasons to NOT attempt treatment. It may take longer than in young children and the overall goals might be different. A thorough evaluation by a doctor with experience with adult amblyopia patients is critical. You can search for a doctor in your area with both COVD and OEPF websites.

If you have questions about adult amblyopia treatment, you can call us at (813) 792-0637, or enter a message at the bottom of the page.

-Dr. Nate

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Westchase and Bright Eyes Kids in New Tampa

Vision scientists don’t always write in terms that patients can understand. But I thought it was interesting to see what researchers say in their own words when they publish scientific papers on treatment of adult amblyopia. Enjoy. 🙂

  • “Two adult patients are presented whose childhood amblyopia improved markedly.” (Willson, 1992)
  • “perceptual learning can improve basic representations within an adult visual system that did not develop during the critical period” (Polat, 2003)
  • “adult amblyopic visual system retains a substantial degree of plasticity: repetitive practice can substantially improve position discrimination acuity.” (Li, 2004)
  • adults with amblyopia can improve their perceptual performance…” (Levi, 2005) ” clearly show the success of the structured method, targeted at the specific deficiencies in amblyopia, to improve vision in children and adults.” (Polat, 2008)
  • “These results show that the mature amblyopic brain is surprisingly malleable, and point to more intensive treatment methods for amblyopia.” (Li, 2008)
  • “that this approach puts in place the necessary neural precursors required to fully recover stereo acuity in adult amblyopic subjects.” (Astle, 2011) “This provides a basis for the treatment of amblyopia in adults who currently have no treatment options.” (Jinrong, 2013)
  • “The home-based dichoptic iPod approach represents a viable treatment for adults with amblyopia. (Hess, 2014)
  • “perceptual learning of various visual discrimination tasks in adults with amblyopia can transfer completely...” (Zhang, 2014)
  • “new treatments are emerging that directly target suppressive interactions within the visual cortex and, on the basis of initial data, appear to improve both binocular and monocular visual function, even in adults with amblyopia” (Hess, 2014)

45 responses to “Research Shows Adults Can Be Treated for Amblyopia”

  1. Abdullah Awni says:

    Dear Madam / Sir
    Can you help me to find a doctor that specialist in amblyopia treatment, I am a 27 years old.
    Best regards

  2. Dominique Taylor says:

    I’m 26 years old and I lost Vision in my left eye almost a year ago I was wondering if it was treatable or not #amblyopia

    • brighteyes says:

      You would really need to have an eye exam to determine if it was or not. You can use the appointment request button at the top of the page.

  3. Davy Auweryckx says:

    Dear

    At first let me introduce myself: I’m a 21year old male currently working in security in Belgium. It’s my dream to become a police officer.
    I only have one big problem with that, my lazy eye…

    In Belgium you are required to score 8/10 on an eye test after correction (glasses or lenses) Before starting my police test, I visited an eye doctor. There I did a test.
    The result of this test: Left eye 10/10 without correction Right eye 2/10 with the strongest possible lens.

    I already knew I wouldn’t score well on the test, since I knew I had a lazy eye. When I was younger, I got patches on my right eye, but I was a bit of a difficult child so I always took it off… Regretting it so much now

    Now i’m doing some research on possible solutions for my (big) issue, but every article so far told me it was not cureable…

    So I’m putting my last hope in your hands, is there any (experimental) cure available in Belgium, are you coöperating with any Belgian hospital? Or are you willing to treat me in your country. I really hope so!
    I can’t descibe how happy I would be with a solution for my issue!

    Kind regards
    Davy Auweryckx

  4. Greg Anderson says:

    I have substantial eye impairment in my left eye. I have had this since I was a child but it was not diagnosed as Lazy Eye until around 40 when I looked into lasik surgery. I’ve had glasses since I was 5 and also have been able to cheat because my right eye was 20/20 but with age (48 now) things are beginning to go down hill. I would love to find someone to talk too about helping my lazy eye and then, hiopefully, getting lasic done afterward. Can you recommend anyone in the Dallas area that is up on the newest techniques? Thank you in advance.

    Greg

    • brighteyes says:

      Greg, It is impossible to know without a thorough exam. I recommend that you go to covd.com to find a doctor in your area. -Dr. Nate

  5. parv says:

    is it possible to take admission in neet with one lazy eye

  6. gebrewahid gebremichael says:

    i live in ethiopia&i have a lazy eye how can i treated my lazy eye?what do you advise me?

  7. Dina says:

    I am 16 years old and my lazy eyes just started to develope at the age of 13 which is when I started to wear glasses…I also realized that my left eye is way to blurry than my right one …If I did patching will It work on me right now ?

    • Bruce Payne says:

      Dina,
      Given your age and the information given, with perseverance it should be possible to at least, be able to improve and hopefully reverse the Amblyopia in your left eye.Firstly ensure you are wearing the best corrective lenses possible. Try wearing an occlusion eye patch for a few hours each day (at first this maybe hard) and work within your reduced visual limits, without straining the left eye. Gradually increase the patching time upto about (say) 4 hours. Once the vision starts to improve maintain regular daily patching as prescribed. You really need to train the left eye to work and also have your correction checked and adjusted (reduced) as required. It’s best to do several patching sessions each day. Patch first-up in the morning, then take it off to allow your eyes to work together (binocular vision) and repeat the patching for another session or two. Hope you will be able to achieve normal improved long term vision.You’ll appreciate it!
      I’m 63 with myopia/astigmatism and have greatly improved my vision to 6/9+ -Bruce

  8. mary kyakutema says:

    Hi , i am 23 years old and just discovered a week ago that i hv amblyopia in my right eye.i live in uganda,any recommendations?

    • brighteyes says:

      Mary, while treatment is possible, it is also complicated at your age. It is necessary for you to have an evaluation with a specialist skilled in the treatment of amblyopia. You might start by looking at COVD.org for people in your area.

  9. Tawnni says:

    Does eyesight improve when you put on glasses? I was just told that my 7 year old has a lazy right eye and we just started the patching process. I was wondering when her glasses come in will she be able to see better out of her bad eye?

  10. will says:

    Hello, i am also in tampa area. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t make me stick with the patch and glasses never worked for me. I believe my right eye is now 20/300. I also have a torn/detached retna? .. i forgot what it is, in this same eye.I was told it would detach if i didn’t immediately get it fixed. Not to lift heavy things etc.Well 2 years later, still no further eyesight loss. I couldn’t then, nor now unless an emergency be forced to lay flat for days and weeks.So i avoided surgery. At age 42 now, is it too late to try and work on the lazy eye? Eyesight is pretty bad in my right eye, and ive now noticed lately once it gets darker.. my left eye lights tend to blur.

    • brighteyes says:

      Will, it sounds like your situation with the right is complicated. Before any determination of what can be done for your amblyopia, the retinal issue must be addressed. If you were recommended surgery, then you should have the surgery. If you have not seen your retinal doctor recently then you schedule a visit with your retinal doctor. Good luck.

  11. Shakib Hridoy says:

    sir….i am 21 years old…..my right eye is having amblyopia problem.. my eye power is 6/18…..is there any way to make it 6/6 sir….

    • brighteyes says:

      Perhaps. It depends on the reason for the reduced vision. You would have to see an eye doctor who specializes in vision treatment to find out the cause of the amblyopia and possible treatments.

  12. Elmi says:

    I live in Iran. How can I get help from your doctors?

  13. Pranu says:

    If I start a dedicated patching work at age of 18 can I improve it? It’s -7 now. If I can, How many hours daily I need to work for it? How much can it be improved

  14. shoaib hanifi says:

    hello

    i have got lazy eye. can shawlens help me with and i want to become a pilot

    regards

    • brighteyes says:

      Shaw Lens certainly can help many people, but you would need a full eye exam to determine if it is for you.

  15. Raaghav Gaur says:

    How much time in a day do I have to wear an eye patch?? I’m 21 years old.

    • brighteyes says:

      It entirely depends on your condition and the treatment plan. I would not recommending an eye patch unless you doctor instructs you do it, because it could create problems.

  16. Shivani Selvam says:

    Can you help me to find a doctor that specialist in amblyopia treatment in Malaysia?

    • brighteyes says:

      Here are some options from covd.org:

      Ai Chen, B Optom / PhD / FAAO / FCOVD-A / Professor of Optometry
      Office 1:

      UiTM

      Level 17, FSK 6,
      Puncak Alam, Selangor 42300

      Office 2:

      UiTM

      Bangunan Wawasan, Aras 3,
      Shah Alam, Selangor 40450

      B
      Loy Ngien Chin, Optician, CL Practitioner, Vision Therapist
      Sin Ming Optical Sdn Bhd

      NO: 64 Jalan Perwira Satu Taman Ungku Tun Aminah
      Skudai, Johor 81300
      (607) 557-7536

      C
      Tong (Stanley) Tien, FCOVD
      Office 1:

      Sun Time Optometry

      No 1, Jalan Ros
      Segamat, Johor 85000
      (607) 931-8514

      Office 2:

      SunTime Vision Specialist

      Lot 07-14, Berjaya Times Square No 1, Jalan Imbi
      Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur 55100
      (6032) 110-3967

  17. I live in Tampa and am just now seeing your site and reading this information. I was diagnosed as a child with lazy eye, wore a patch some but was never told any of what I am reading. I am now 73 years old and have been experiencing in the last few years difficulties seeing. It’s like my eyes drift together and I’m seeing out of one eye. No eye doctor has been helpful until this last time I went for glasses, explained my problem and was told it could be neurological or associated with the lazy eye. My question is. Can anything be done to even help in some small way. I like to read and play piano, but my eyes don’t cooperate.
    Thank you

    • brighteyes says:

      Hello, Regina,

      Even if the underlying cause is neurological, it is likely that that are methods to help you be more comfortable. Reading and playing the piano are wonderful things and you should be able to enjoy them. It is possible that special glasses might help or perhaps vision therapy. Only a thorough evaluation will help us decide.

      -Dr. Nate

      • Thank you Dr. Nate for your rapid response. I have spoken with my insurance and with a referral from My primary, they will allow treatment even though you are not on the physicians list. So I I will be calling to make an appointment soon. As I said, even the smallest help with my vision would be wonderful. Also, I appreciated your comment that I should be able to enjoy reading and playing the piano. Looking forward to a visit and thank you again.

  18. Shukrah says:

    Hello good morning….I’ve had amblyopia since I was a kid in my right eye…didn’t notice till about the age of 11 /12…then the doctor gave me eye glasses..later contact lense now I’m not using anything because nothing seemed to be working….the eye has gotten really bad …i stay in Nigeria pls do you know of any doctor that specialises in amblyopia here?….or do I have to fly down to where you are….I’m almost 23 years…i really need a solution pls

  19. Sara says:

    I am 59-1/2, amblyopic left eye from severe childhood strabismus. My vision in that eye can best be described as trying to see through a black, very opaque shower curtain. Good right eye is 20/300, also now with some presbyopia, corrected to 20/20 with glasses (actually wore a multifocal lens for quite a while with good results). My question: Is it even worth pursuing an attempt to correct the amblyopia at my age? I definitely could function very little with patching the eye.

  20. Dan says:

    I have had amblyopia since my youth. I’m now 67. Can a patch help at all or is it a waste of time?

    • brighteyes says:

      Only a thorough eye exam with a specialist trained in amblyopia can answer can give you advice. However, if there is help for you, it would not be in the form of a simple eye patch, but with a program of vision therapy.

  21. Manahil Athar says:

    Hi, I am 22 and I’ve misaligned eyes. What could be the drawbacks of wearing eyepatch over the strong eye because after I remove the patch the pupil lies outwards. I wear spectacles of 0.25 power higher than the eye number. RE 0.75 and LE 1.5.

    • brighteyes says:

      You should only attempt patching under the direction of a doctor experienced in binocular vision treatment because you could make the problem worse.

  22. Ashutosh Harpude says:

    Sir i have hypermetropic amblyopia in my left eye by which i have 6/36 visionand right eye has 6/6 my left eye is very minutely turned outwards. Plz tell me any excercises to improve my vision acuity.

  23. Harsh says:

    I am 37 years from India with amblyopia in my left eye , can it be treated at this age?

  24. Debbi Reaves says:

    I’m 63. My lazy eye started about 7 years ago. Could the wrong prescription lens havecaused this to happen?

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