10 useful exercises for people with a lazy eye

When there is a lazy or lazy eye, sight can work poorly on one of the two sides. Read on and learn how to identify it and what exercises can be performed to improve this condition.

Last update: November 28, 2021

The lazy or lazy eye, also called amblyopia, is a condition in which visual perception tends to favor or focus on only one side. This occurs when one of the eyes is weaker or has worse vision.

Its incidence is estimated at 3 out of 100 children. It also occurs in adults. Lazy eye gets worse over time if it’s not cared for properly.

Among other treatments, it is recommended to wear a patch on the eye with better vision, as well as the performance of various exercises eyepieces. These include the use of pencils, point cards, reading, and even board and video games.

This is to help strengthen the muscles on the lazy or lazy side. Also, the brain is trained in control, so that the two eyes work together more effectively.

What is lazy eye?

From the moment we are born, the sense of sight begins to evolve and mature in interaction with the environment. It is estimated that its development is complete at 4 years.

Of course, this depends on the maturation of each child in various aspects. It is appropriate to point out, in this regard, that we do not see only with our eyes. Although these capture and transmit the images, the visual cortex is in charge of processing and interpretation.

Now, the stimulation of this area is vital in the first years. It is what will promote adequate vision throughout life. But if something interferes with that process, it will affect development and the way the cortex and eyes work together.

Sometimes this occurs unevenly or asymmetrically, and the brain cannot recognize the sight of both organs equally. It is called lazy eye or amblyopia decreased visual acuity on one side only.

In particular, an eye whose capacity is less than normal by at least 20% is considered amblyopic. According to him National Eye Institute (NIH), up to 3 in 100 children have this condition.

Even despite the bias that the name may denote, it should be clarified that people with amblyopia are not lazy, far from it. In fact, it is not their fault what happens with the eyes, since they do not control their operation.

Vision problems in children must be solved early to avoid future problems.

Lazy eye symptoms

Amblyopia can go unnoticed, even for the same person who suffers it. Consequently, lazy eye symptoms are often difficult to notice.

You have to be attentive to various signs. These include the following:

  • Poor depth perception, making it difficult to know how far or close an object is when trying to grasp it.
  • People with amblyopia show a tendency to squint in order to focus better.
  • They may occasionally tilt or tilt their head when spoken to from the lazy eye side.
  • They do not distinguish details, for example in texts or figures.

Diagnosis and treatment

With the passage of time, the perception of the brain will depend more and more on the strong eye, while the lazy eye will weaken and tend to worsen. This is the most common cause of vision loss in children..

Early diagnosis and treatment of this problem can prevent it from getting worse. Regarding the approaches, they largely depend on the cause or factor involved. Most commonly, glasses or contact lenses are recommended. But if there are cataracts, surgery must be done.

The next step would be to retrain the brain. In this sense, it is common to place a patch to cover the strong eye, forcing the use of the weak one. Some need the patch for a few hours a day, while others will need it longer. This can make children uncomfortable.

Instead, sometimes an atropine-based drops are used. These have the same function, limiting vision in the strong eye and causing the weak to work. Its prolonged use is associated with irritation, hyperemia and conjunctivitis.

Lazy eye exercises

As part of the general treatment, the ophthalmologist may recommend various exercises. Some are done in office therapy and others are to be done at home.

1. Pencil push-ups

In this exercise you can use a pencil, pen or other object with that shape and size. It is recommended that you have a letter, symbol or image that helps to visualize. In the case of children, it can be a cartoon character.

Previously, the patch must be applied. The exercise consists of holding the pencil in front of the lazy eye at arm’s length and slowly bringing it as close as possible to the nose, keeping the focus on the figure. This is repeated about 5 times. 3 sessions a day are suggested.

2. Brock rope

This is a special rope, designed by a Swiss optometrist named Brock, a specialist in strabismus. It is white, about 5 meters long, with movable wooden beads of various colors.

The objective of the exercise is that the eyes learn to work together, focusing on an object. Therefore, in this case the patch should not be applied.

The exercise is carried out as follows:

  1. One end of the string is tied to a doorknob, window frame, or other stationary object.
  2. The other end is tied to the person’s index finger. This finger is placed just below the nose.
  3. The rope should be taut.
  4. The beads must have been previously placed so that one is near the pommel, the second one at a meter from the person and the third at six inches from the nose.
  5. The view is focused on the closest bead first, making sure to only see one.
  6. The focus is shifted to the middle fixation count and then to the far one, holding in each case for a few seconds.

3. Points card

You can buy or make the card. It should be rectangular, about 4 to 4 inches high by 6 inches wide.

Preferably, they should be white. Three circles will be drawn, equidistant, across the card. In one they will be green and in another, red. The size of the circles goes, decreasingly, from an inch in diameter to about a centimeter.

The cards are placed vertically, on each side of the person’s nose, with the small circles at eye level and the larger ones facing down. You start by focusing, trying to get a clear image of the large circle. Focus is held for a few moments (counting to 5). Then it goes to the middle circles and finally to the smaller ones.

The goal is to be aware of the simultaneous use of both eyes, working convergence and divergence. Then the exercises can be varied, working with the weak eye, covering the strong with the patch.

4. Reading

The benefits of reading are well known, both for children and adults. It helps reduce stress levels, increases vocabulary, increases concentration, delays or reduces cognitive decline, favors the development of empathy. And if it was not enough, some reading a day helps exercise lazy eye, using of course the patch.

5. Coloring

Children love to color and this is a good way to motivate them to do the eye exercises, focusing on images that are attractive to them. When starting, the patch should be placed on the strong eye.

6. Crafts

Another way for kids to exercise their lazy eye is with crafts. Activities such as cutting, gluing, stitching, and stringing beads help develop creativity, concentration, hand-eye coordination, as well as fine motor skills.

7. Videogames

Despite the fact that video games are often criticized, it should not be overlooked that these develop hand-eye coordination, stimulate imagination, promote healthy competition and the desire to excel.

In a 2011 study it was found that they are very beneficial for adults with lazy eye. In addition, there are video games that involve the use of glasses and that are designed to force both eyes to work at the same time.

The use of video games can be useful to stimulate the lazy eye. It can’t be any software. It is advisable to ask a specialist in the field.

8. Board games

The benefits of board games are also diverse: improving concentration and cognitive and strategic skills, learning to collaborate, abiding by rules and accepting defeat as part of life, managing frustration.

There are board games appropriate for the lazy eye, since they demand to exercise visual acuity. These include assembling puzzles and memory puzzles.

9. Crosswords and word searches

Crosswords, sudoku, letter crosses, word searches … although they are more solitary hobbies, require a lot of concentration and visual focus on one point, so they are excellent activities to work the lazy eye.

10. Sports and ball games

Sports and games in which implements are used, such as balls, rackets or others, help train visual acuity, eye-hand coordination and the development of gross motor segments. The patch must be worn in all these activities.

Lazy eye prognosis

The exercises listed and explained are part of a lazy eye treatment plan. But they can also be beneficial for other conditions, such as strabismus and convergence insufficiency.

After starting the exercises, the amblyopia usually improves. However, the results will be noticeable over time. And even when there are notable improvements, you have to exercise to avoid relapses.

In general terms, exercises are more effective the earlier they are started. Complete correction can be expected if treatment is started before age 7.

Finally, it is considered that these exercises are not always sufficient by themselves to eliminate this condition. For this reason they are combined with the use of patches and glasses.

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