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What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye”, is a relatively common vision disorder in children. It is characterized by the development of reduced vision in one eye when the two eyes are unequal or misaligned. Consequently, the abnormal eye sees a burred image, weakening the development of the nerve pathways to the brain, leading to Amblyopia.

What Causes Amblyopia?

Strabismus (crossed-eyes) is the most common cause of amblyopia. This refers to any misalignment of the eyes. When the eyes misalign, the child’s brain will often pick one eye to do the viewing while the other eye will be suppressed. The suppressed eye is at risk for developing amblyopia, not functioning to its fullest capacity.

If a child is born with unequal prescriptions in each eye, one eye may develop more blurry vision than the other, commonly causing amblyopia in that eye. Visual occlusion caused by congenital cataracts, retina anomalies, corneal opacities or droopy eyelids can also may cause amblyopia.

What Are Symptoms of Amblyopia?

While symptoms of Amblyopia are not always obvious, the following are a few signs:

  • Eyes that cross in or turn out
  • Eyes that appear to not be working together
  • Noticeable favoring of one eye
  • Tendency to bump into objects on one side

How is Amblyopia Treated?

Early diagnosis increases the chances for a more successful recovery. Children who get treated before age 5 often recover with completely normal vision.

Treatment can include a combination of prescription lenses, prisms, vision therapy, and /or eye patching. When patching is done, an eye patch is placed on the normal eye. This forces the brain to recognize the image from the amblyopic eye. Children with nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism will need glasses.

For treatment of crossed-eyes, please see our Strabismus section.

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