Amblyopia, often called lazy eye, is a condition that occurs when there is a reduction of vision in one eye that is not correctable with glasses.
There are 2 common types of amblyopia:
- Anisometropic amblyopia—Vision in one eye differs from the other. This is often caused by a large difference in eyeglass prescription. The difference may be caused by one eye being more nearsighted or farsighted than the other, or by large differences in astigmatism.
- Strabismic amblyopia— Visible misalignment (crossing) of one eye.
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
The sooner amblyopia is treated, the more favorable the outcome.
Amblyopia is caused when the brain prefers (favors) one eye to the other. The brain’s preference (liking) for one eye over the other can weaken and reduce vision in the eye that is less used.
There are no apparent genetic or environmental factors that can be attributed to causing amblyopia.
Amblyopia is more common in children under 10 years old with:
- Crossed eyes
A large difference in sight between the 2 eyes that may be:
- Detected by a large difference in eyeglass prescription
- Visual blockage such as a cataract, droopy eyelid, or corneal scarring
Amblyopia can also occur in adults.
Some people with amblyopia may not have symptoms. In those that have them, amblyopia may cause:
- A droopy (the inability to fully open) eyelid that blocks the pupil
- Blurry vision
- Excessive squinting or closing of the eyes
- Repeatedly closing of one eye in bright sunlight
- Crossing of one eye, generally the eye that is less used will excessively turn toward the nose
Symptoms vary depending on the extent of the amblyopia.
Your eye doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. An examination of your eyes will be done. Since amblyopia tends to occur in young children, the types of tests their eye doctor will perform will be determined by their age and ability to respond.
Tests to evaluate the eyes may include:
- Visual acuity assessment testing (VAT)—to assess distant vision
- Cycloplegic refraction test—to assess how the eyeball displays and receives images produced by the lens of the eye
- Retinoscopy—to determine a preverbal child’s eyeglass prescription
- Prisms—to determine the amount of crossing between the 2 eyes
Treatment includes correcting visual obstructions, such as cataracts and other visual abnormalities.
Talk to your doctor about the best option for you. These may include:
Atropine drops or ointment is placed in the non-amblyopic eye. This causes the sound eye to become unfocused and forces the use of the lazy eye.
Occlusive therapy involves using a patch over the non-amblyopic eye (the sound eye), forcing the use of the lazy eye.
Bangerter foils are another option. The foils, which are made of thin vinyl, are placed over an eye glass lens, covering the non-amblyopic eye. Just like with the patch, this forces the weaker eye to become stronger because you will not be able to see well with the foiled lens.
While there are no current guidelines to prevent amblyopia, vision screening can help to detect the condition at an early age. Children under age 3-5 (or younger) years should be examined for eye problems.
- Michael Woods, MD
- Reviewed: 12/2014
- Updated: 12/20/2014
Please note, not all procedures included in this resource library are available at Henry Ford Allegiance Health or performed by Henry Ford Allegiance Health physicians.
All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.