Amblyopia/Lazy Eye

What is Amblyopia?

  • Amblyopia is the medical term for what is commonly known as “Lazy Eye”
  • This condition always develops in childhood and is fairly common across the globe estimating to occur in 3/100 people
  • Amblyopia is a developmental disorder of visual processing that occurs during early childhood
  • Amblyopia results in reduced vision even with the best glasses or contact lenses
  • Amblyopia is caused by an interruption of binocular (two-eyed) vision
    • Due to an eye turn called strabismus
    • Due to a higher prescription in one eye and more rarely a high prescription in both eyes
    • Due to an interference of light entering the eye (lid droop, cataract, etc..)
  • Amblyopia is curable with appropriate intervention

Amblyopia aka “Lazy Eye” is a difficult condition for parents to identify without a professional examination. Children with amblyopia tend to look fine. The reason that children look fine is that their brain has adapted to deal with the distorted vision! Suppression is the term used to describe the brain shutting down the information coming in from one eye. The brain does this to protect the child from confusion that would occur if two very different quality images reached the brain at the same time. Suppression results in reduced visual processing from the eye to the brain.

What is hard for most people to understand is that glasses (or contacts) does not cure amblyopia. A helpful analogy to understand amblyopia is to think of cable television. The television monitor is akin to a glasses prescription and the cable going from the station to the house is akin to the optic nerve carrying information to/from the brain. If you have a prescription causing blurred vision (broken monitor) and you get glasses (new monitor) you will see well. But when you have amblyopia you have a broken cable and a broken monitor. Getting a new TV monitor is not going to solve the problem. You need to figure out how to strengthen the cable as well as the monitor.

Are there any concerns with Amblyopia besides not seeing well in one eye?

  • Amblyopia is most often recognized the difficulty with eyesight in one eye despite the best prescription glasses or contact lenses but there is much more to amblyopia than just simply reduced eye sight
  • Amblyopia can be thought of a syndrome that commonly consists of:
    • Reduced eyesight
    • Reduced depth perception
    • Reduced focusing (accommodation)
    • Reduced reading efficiency
    • Poor eye movements related to reading

What is the treatment for Amblyopia?

  • The first step to treatment is the appropriate prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Patching one eye is an inexpensive option financially but expensive in other ways including:
    • Social/emotional problems with patching
    • Reduced depth perception when patching
    • Poor compliance
    • Increased familial tension
    • Regression of improvement after stopping the patch
    • Long treatment time often 1 year or more
  • Binocular Vision Therapy (VT) is being recognized as an improved treatment over patching that targets the root cause of amblyopia. Research has shown VT to be an effective option for the treatment of Amblyopia without relying on patching. Benefits of VT are:
    • Improved compliance
    • Improved depth perception
    • Longer lasting results than patching
    • Often faster results when compared to patching

If you or your child has been diagnosed with Amblyopia or Lazy Eye then our team can help! Request an appointment today and we will live up to our mission of Improving Lives by Improving Vision!

Learn more at the dedicated site for information on amblyopia from the Vision Help Group.