Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)


What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia or “lazy eye” is a condition in which the eye and brain are not working together as they should. This can cause decreased vision in one or both eyes.
From birth until 7 years of age, important connections are formed between your child’s eyes and brain. Anything that blocks or blurs
Blurred View Normal View vision in one or both eyes can block the development of these connections. This can cause the brain to not fully recognize the images seen by one or both eyes. When this happens, the brain begins to ignore the images seen by the healthy eye, and the eye becomes weaker, losing vision strength (acuity). This eye is then referred to as “amblyopic.” It is the leading cause of vision loss in children.

What causes amblyopia?

  • A turn in the eye, which is known as a strabismus or squint
  • A need for glasses to help focusing
  • An obstacle blocking the vision to develop (for example: drooping eyelid (ptosis) or a cataract (clouding of the eyes)

What are the symptoms of amblyopia?

Often there are no symptoms of amblyopia.
Young children often don't realize they have problems with their vision and if they realize it, they  usually don't have the ability to explain the problem.
Older children may complain that they cannot see with one eye. You may also notice that one of your child's eyes looks different from the other.

How is amblyopia diagnosed?

Amblyopia is diagnosed by examining your child's eyes and a vision test to assess their  vision.
The type of vision test depends on how old your child is. If your child already has strabismus, this will be carefully monitored to see if there is progress

How is amblyopia treated?

Most children with amblyopia can be treated, in two stages. The primary eye problem is first corrected. This can be done using glasses to correct the focus of the eye, which often helps to correct strabismus as well. Your child is then encouraged to use their weaker eye again.

Occlusion therapy (Patching)

  • This is the most common way of treating amblyopia
  • It is not used for treating squint (strabismus)
  • The stronger eye is covered to encourage the use of the weaker eye
  • Treatment should be carried out with the glasses on (if your child wears glasses)

Medication (Atropine – eye drops)

  • Atropine is another form of patching
  • It works with certain groups of patients
  • Atropine blurs the vision in the stronger eye and encourages the use of the weaker eye
  • This treatment option will be discussed with you if it is right for your child

Optical (glasses)

  • The strength of the glasses is adjusted to encourage the use of the weaker eye
  • This treatment option will be discussed with you if it is right for your child

Older children (age 7 upwards)

  • The younger the child is when a lazy eye is diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be. If treatment is started after the age of eight, success is less likely
  • Treatment will be modified for your child and he/she will be monitored for any complications

Will the amblyopia (lazy eye) have normal vision?

The goal of the treatment is to reach the best possible vision in your child’s lazy eye. Early treatment is always best. If necessary, children with refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) can wear glasses when they are as young as one week old.
The doctor may also prescribe eye patching therapy. With eye patching your child would wear a patch over the stronger eye which would force the brain to start using the weaker eye. Patching therapy may be required on and off throughout childhood.

Will patching correct my child's strabismus?

Eye patches and other amblyopia treatments aim to improve vision but do not correct strabismus. Patching improves vision in some children, as the eye with amblyopia is used more often, which reduces the size of the strabismus in the eye.

Important things to know:

  • Do not carry out any treatment without the supervision of your child’s eye care professionals
  • Always follow instructions and do not patch more than what is recommended by your child's doctor
  • Attend all follow-up appointments to ensure the treatment plan is monitored closely
  • Risks are different for each child; your child’s eye doctor or the orthoptist will discuss the risks with you before treatment

If you have any questions or concerns:

Please contact Sidra eye clinic.