Everyone knows what lazy eye looks like (or at least, one version of it), but few people actually know what the condition is. Medically referred to as “amblyopia,” lazy eye is what happens when your brain and your eyes aren’t on the same page. Lazy eye is actually three conditions that all end up creating the same result: loss of vision in one eye.

It’s caused by one of three different conditions:

  • When the eyes are misaligned (strabismus)
  • When there’s a blockage in front of the eye
  • When the eyes have vastly different levels of near or farsightedness

In each case, what happens is that the eyes are sending the brain signals that it can’t process—so it eventually favors one of the eyes and stops receiving signals from the other. In order to understand lazy eye, you have to understand that your vision takes place in two places: your eyes (the receiver) and your brain (the translator).

You could have perfectly functioning eyes and still lose vision if your brain doesn’t translate visual signals correctly. That’s what’s happening in situations 1 and 2: the eyes can see just fine, but the brain is having trouble making sense of what they’re seeing. As a result, these are not fixable with LASIK surgery. LASIK surgery is a way to correct bad eyes, but it can’t be used to fix bad neurological pathways.

When LASIK Can Help Fix a Lazy Eye

That leaves us with condition 3: when the eyes have vastly different levels of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. But wait: why does being nearsighted in one eye cause a loss of vision?

Imagine that you have two earbuds, but one of them is garbled and crackling. If you’re trying to listen to music, you’ll take one of those earbuds out eventually. That’s what your brain does with an eye that has severe refraction errors—it simply ignores your weaker eye and only “listens” to the stronger one. If a LASIK surgeon could correct the weaker eye, then it’s possible for your brain to start receiving signals from it again and restore your vision.

However, there are prerequisites: your lazy eye has to be solely caused by issues in the eye, and it has to be correctable to at least 20/40 vision. If your eyes meet those requirements, you’ll be able to get LASIK to correct them.

Here’s the coolest part: when your eyes function better, it has a way of “waking up” your brain’s vision too—meaning your vision may improve even further as your visual pathways strengthen.

Give us a call at the LASIK surgery offices of Barry Wasserman, M.D. to see if LASIK is good for you! And keep visiting our blog for more interesting facts and stories about how amazing your eyes are.

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