Read more about What is Lazy Eye?

Amblyopia is a condition commonly referred to as a “lazy eye”. It is a result of a lack of coordination between the eyes. When the brain stops processing fully the inputs from both eyes, it then begins to favor the stronger eye which leads to the weaker eye being left unused, hence the term “lazy eye”. In more advanced cases the weaker eye will wander inward or outward.  When a patient has amblyopia in one or both eyes, they may not see as well as they expected or have symptoms such as:

  • Squinting or tilting the head when reading
  • Eyes moving in different directions when focusing
  • Reduced depth perception (3D vision)
  • Weaker peripheral vision
  • Misalignment of the eyes

Lazy eye is thought to affect over 3% of children and is the leading cause of decreased vision in children.

What are the causes of amblyopia?

Following are the few causes of amblyopia:

  • A juvenile cataract, a corneal anomaly, droopy eye lid, or anything else that impairs your vision in that eye very early on in life.
  • A high refractive condition such as being really nearsighted or really farsighted. Or having a difference between the two eyes. You might have one nearsighted eye and one farsighted eye, which could make your brain have to decide which one to focus on. And the eye that your brain doesn't choose can develop this condition amblyopia.
  • Another cause of amblyopia is eye turn. When you have slight outward or inward deviations in your eye, your brain can learn to filter out the information. If it does that for a long enough period of time, it won't stimulate the pathway back to your brain. As a result, your brain doesn't develop the pathway from your eye to your brain. If it doesn't develop, then you're not going to see to your full capability.

How important is a timely eye exam?

In studies, it has been found that the eyes do not track well, the eyes do not perceive contrast well. A real deficit can be seen in the amblyopic eye compared to the normal eye. Thus, early childhood exams are important to determine whether a problem has arisen that might not be detected. Most eye turns are really slight. They may not be visible unless special tests are conducted. We recommend everyone have their newborn examined at six months, and then have an annual exam thereafter, to make sure their visual system is developing properly and that they don't have any conditions leading to amblyopia. The problem with amblyopia is that once it has set in, it is hard to remove. Many amblyopic patients never attain full vision or full function in their amblyopic eye if they do not receive treatment early. Time is crucial when treating amblyopia.

How can amblyopia be treated?

A good thing about vision therapy is that it can help amblyopic patients tremendously. There are two main goals when trying to work with a patient with amblyopia:

  • The first step is to make sure that the patient has the most appropriate prescription for the required optical correction. The patient is then avoided any refractive error, allowing for proper alignment.
  • Through various forms of vision therapy, the eyes are trained to work together properly so the brain can interpret the images from both eyes and form one clear image instead of suppressing one.
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