Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Treating and correcting childhood vision condition known as “lazy eye”

Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye,” refers to vision loss—usually in one of the eyes—during your child’s early developmental years. Your child’s brain does not learn to see well from the affected eye or eyes.

It is a leading cause of vision loss in children and if left untreated, it continues into adulthood. Between 2 to 3 percent of people in the United States have amblyopia.

Amblyopia Causes

A number of things can cause Aamblyopia, including:

  • Strabismus. In this condition, the eyes are misaligned because the muscles that control them do not work together. It gives the appearance of “crossed eyes” or a “wandering eye.”
  • Unequal refractive errors. Refractive errors include being nearsighted (myopic), farsighted (hyperopic) or astigmatic and make it difficult to focus at certain distances. It may lead to abnormal 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. This is referred to as bilateral amblyopia.

Overview

Amblyopia Causes

A number of things can cause Aamblyopia, including:

  • Strabismus. In this condition, the eyes are misaligned because the muscles that control them do not work together. It gives the appearance of “crossed eyes” or a “wandering eye.”
  • Unequal refractive errors. Refractive errors include being nearsighted (myopic), farsighted (hyperopic) or astigmatic and make it difficult to focus at certain distances. It may lead to abnormal 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. This is referred to as bilateral amblyopia.

Amblyopia is not always obvious. Both eyes can look normal in amblyopia, so it is important that children receive early vision screening. The key to successful treatment of amblyopia is finding the problem early.

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

The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute is the eye and vision research hub of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Our researchers investigate how vision develops in children, and find new ways to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions.

Diagnosis

Amblyopia is not always obvious. Both eyes can look normal in amblyopia, so it is important that children receive early vision screening. The key to successful treatment of amblyopia is finding the problem early.

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

The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute is the eye and vision research hub of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Our researchers investigate how vision develops in children, and find new ways to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions.

Our ophthalmologists use the most advanced techniques to improve your child’s vision. Indiana University Health physicians develop a personalized treatment plan based on the cause of your child’s amblyopia, and the needs and preferences of your family. Our physicians want your child to have the best possible eyesight.

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

  • Correcting eye problems. Glasses, contact lenses or surgical correction of the eye muscles may be necessary.
  • Patching. By covering the stronger eye, your child uses the weaker eye. This technique strengthens the eye’s nerve pathway to the brain.
  • Eye drops. A special eye drop that blurs the vision sometimes serves the same purpose as patching. Your child typically receives the drop once a day.

Treatment

Our ophthalmologists use the most advanced techniques to improve your child’s vision. Indiana University Health physicians develop a personalized treatment plan based on the cause of your child’s amblyopia, and the needs and preferences of your family. Our physicians want your child to have the best possible eyesight.

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

  • Correcting eye problems. Glasses, contact lenses or surgical correction of the eye muscles may be necessary.
  • Patching. By covering the stronger eye, your child uses the weaker eye. This technique strengthens the eye’s nerve pathway to the brain.
  • Eye drops. A special eye drop that blurs the vision sometimes serves the same purpose as patching. Your child typically receives the drop once a day.

EyeSmart

This American Academy of Ophthalmology web site provides easy-to-understand explanations of amblyopia and many other eye health topics.

Resources

EyeSmart

This American Academy of Ophthalmology web site provides easy-to-understand explanations of amblyopia and many other eye health topics.

Patient Stories for Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)