What is Amblyopia?

mblyopia, known better as a condition referred to as ‘lazy eye’, is the result of abnormal development of the eye during infancy and early childhood.  The abnormal development is the fault of improper stimulation in the nerve pathways between the brain and the eye.  As a result, the brain favors one eye over the other, and the weaker or “lazy” eye will wander.  Untreated, the brain might start to ignore signals from the lazy eye all together. 


The condition causes decreased vision in children, and is actually the top cause of decreased vision in children.  If the condition is not treated, children can experience a loss in their vision ranging from slight to significant vision loss.  The most common treatments for the condition are eye patches, eye drops, or corrective lenses.  Surgical intervention is required in more severe cases of the condition.
What are the symptoms of lazy eye?

Lazy eye is usually present in just one eye, but there have been cases where both eyes are affected.  An eye exam is necessary to diagnose the condition properly.  Some of the common symptoms of lazy eye include the following:

·         An eye that wanders inward or outward

·         Eyes that may not appear to work together

·         Poor depth perception

What are the causes of lazy eye?

There are a few common causes of lazy eye, all of which blur vision or affect the muscles of the eye, impeding normal vision.  Some common causes include:

  • Strabismus: This is an imbalance in the muscles that control eye placement.  This imbalance can keep the eyes from staying coordinated with one another in movement, and can cause crossing in or out of the eyes.
  • Deprivation: This is anything that deprives clear vision from the eye such as a cloudy area or droopy lid. 
  • Refractive: This is a lazy eye caused by significant difference between the visions of the two eyes. This can happen because of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. 

Who is at risk for lazy eye?

Lazy eye tends to run in families. Lazy eye may be more likely among children who are born prematurely or with low birth weight, or who are born in a family with a history of childhood cataracts or serious eye disease.

How do you treat lazy eye?

·         Corrective eyewear: Another vision condition like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism can lead to lazy eye, as the brain interprets one eye as weaker than the other. Glasses may be all that is needed to correct the problem.

  • Eye patches: Putting an eyepatch over the stronger eye can help stimulate the ‘lazy eye’ to work harder.  This treatment plan is most effective in children over 4 years old.   
  • Eye drops:  Eye drops can be used to blue the vision of the stronger eye and encourage the weaker eye to work harder.  This is an alternative to wearing a patch. 
  • Surgery: Surgical intervention to repair the muscles of the eye might be necessary if the eyes start to wander apart or cross.