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Amblyopia refers to vision loss, usually in one eye, that occurs during a child’s early developmental years. The brain does not learn to see well from the affected eye(s). This condition is also known as “lazy eye.”

Amblyopia is a leading cause of vision loss in children. If left untreated, the condition continues into adulthood. Between two and three percent of people in the United States have amblyopia.

Both eyes can look normal in amblyopia. Causes include:

  • Strabismus. In this condition, the eyes are misaligned because the muscles that control them do not work together. As one eye looks ahead, the other turns inward, outward, down or up, giving the appearance of “crossed eyes” or a “wandering eye.” The brain ignores the image from one eye to avoid double vision.
  • Unequal refractive errorsRefractive errors include being nearsighted (myopic), farsighted (hyperopic) or astigmatic and cause the eye(s) to have trouble focusing at certain distances. When the focus in one eye is better than in the other, the child’s brain may not develop normal vision in one eye.
  • Obstruction. A cataract or any other condition that causes a physical barrier to clear sight can cause amblyopia.

In rare cases, poor vision develops in both eyes in a condition known as bilateral amblyopia.

Amblyopia does not always have obvious signs, so early vision screening is important. The key to successful treatment of amblyopia is finding the problem early. At Indiana University Health, we develop a personalized treatment plan based on the cause of your child’s amblyopia and the needs and preferences of your family. Our goal is for your child to have the best possible eyesight.

If your child’s pediatrician suspects amblyopia or another condition, we perform a thorough examination and begin treatment if necessary. Results in children with amblyopia who are treated by age six or seven are typically excellent. Research has shown that some improvement is possible even when treatment begins as late as the teenage years.

Our ophthalmologists use the most advanced techniques to improve your child’s vision. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute is the eye and vision research hub of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Our investigators are currently trying to better understand how vision develops in children and find new ways to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Amblyopia Treatment Information

Fixing amblyopia typically requires both correcting the underlying problem and treating the amblyopia. A treatment plan for amblyopia may include:

Amblyopia Locations & Physicians

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Amblyopia Support Services

Find information and resources on amblyopia at these websites: