Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia is when your child’s brain is not fully learning how to use one or both of the eyes. At birth, the brain does not know how to see and needs to learn how to see. In order to do this, both eyes need to provide good vision to the brain. If one eye does not see as well as the other, then the brain does not learn how to use that eye. In some cases, neither eye is giving good vision to the brain and in that situation, the brain does not learn what “normal” vision is. 

What are the types/causes of amblyopia?

  • Refractive - amblyopia in one eye caused by a difference in glasses prescriptions between the eyes. If both eyes have a high refractive error (hyperopia, myopia, astigmatism), then both eyes may become amblyopic.
  • Strabismic (eye misalignment) - amblyopia caused by eye misalignment (e.g. wandering or crossing of the eye)
  • Occlusive - amblyopia caused by a structural abnormality (e.g. cataract) that blocks vision in one or both eyes. 

How is amblyopia diagnosed?

A complete history and eye examination

What is the treatment for amblyopia?

Treatment can include one or more of the following:

  • Patching - patching (occluding) the “good” eye for part of the time to force your child to use the amblyopic eye. 
  • Glasses
  • Eye drops - in some cases, eye drops (e.g. atropine) may be used to cause the vision in the “good” eye to be blurry
  • Surgery - surgery may be recommended in cases where an occlusion (e.g. cataract) is blocking the vision. Surgery may also be recommended to fix the strabismus (eye misalignment) to encourage better use of the amblyopic eye.