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
than the other, or by large differences in
Visible misalignment (crossing) of one eye.
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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:
UnnoticedDetected by a large difference in eyeglass prescriptionVisual 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 pupilHeadachesBlurry visionExcessive squinting or closing of the eyesRepeatedly closing of one eye in bright sunlightCrossing 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 visionCycloplegic refraction test—to assess how the eyeball displays and receives images produced by the lens of the eyeRetinoscopy—to determine a preverbal child’s eyeglass prescriptionPrisms—to determine the amount of crossing between the 2 eyes
Treatment includes correcting visual obstructions, such as
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.
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Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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