What is Amblyopia? And what do I need to know?


Amblyopia, also called “lazy eye,” affects 2% of children. Amblyopia occurs when a child’s developing brain does not learn to see properly with one or both eyes. Strabismus may be one cause of amblyopia; with strabismus an eye is misdirected and the child “turns off” the drifting eye. Amblyopia also may occur when a child needs glasses for just one eye or strong glasses for both eyes. Congenital cataracts or drooping eyelids may also cause amblyopia by preventing the developing brain from working with the eye. Unless treated in childhood, amblyopia will persist into adulthood causing permanent visual loss.

Treatment of amblyopia may include glasses or contacts to properly focus the light into the eye. Other treatments may also include eye drop therapy or patching of the better seeing eye, thus training the brain to use the amblyopic eye. Unfortunately, amblyopia may not be obvious and is often not detected until later in childhood. However, early treatment of amblyopia usually achieves the best results.

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