In a child with normal visual development, the brain receives information from each eye, and then combines these two images to create one clear picture of the world.

Amblyopia occurs when the brain is unable to fuse that information. The brain eventually learns to ignore the information from the worse seeing eye, which is often called the “lazy eye.” This leads to a lack of normal visual development of the vision in the eye that is not being used. In this case, vision cannot be corrected to 20/20, even with prescription eyeglasses.

Generally, amblyopia develops in children if the underlying problem shows up within the first few 6 years or so of life. Approximately 2% of children have it. Fortunately, it can be treated at any age.

There are three main causes for amblyopia: Either the eyes are not pointing in the same direction (strabismic amblyopia), the power of the eye is unequal (anisometropic amblyopia), or a combination of both.  Additionally, visual deprivation can cause amblyopia.

Common Symptoms

  • Blurred vision in one or both eyes that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Treatment Options

The first step is an accurate spectacle or contact lens prescription.  It may require frequent changes in glasses prescription over time.  In addition, a comprehensive eye exam will be performed with drops to evaluate the health of the eye and any residual refractive prescription.

Patching may be recommended with the amount dependent on the level of visual acuity.
Additional treatment options would include optometric vision therapy to equalize the vision in the two eyes and to obtain normal binocular (or “two-eyed”) seeing.

The most dramatic improvement in vision occurs within the first three months, and the entire process generally takes about six months. Follow-up visits are required, so the doctor can determine the progress of treatment.

Exam / Visit Expectations

What are steps or key expectations for a visit related to this condition? If multiple visits will be required (like myopia) please outline the typical visits by number and what to expect with each that may be different. General follow-up visits, unless something different happens do not need to be included.

Patient Resources or at home actions

College of Optometrists in Vision Development

The Optometric Extension Program Foundation

Parents Active for Vision Education