Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood. It is sometimes called "lazy eye."
When one eye develops good vision while the other does not, the eye with poorer vision is called amblyopic. Usually, only one eye is affected by amblyopia, but it is possible for both eyes to be "lazy."
The condition is common, affecting approximately two or three out of every 100 people. The best time to correct amblyopia is during infancy or early childhood. It is recommended that all children have their vision checked by their pediatrician, family physician, or ophthalmologist at or before their fourth birthday.
Amblyopia is caused by any condition that affects normal use of the eyes and visual development. In many cases, the conditions associated with amblyopia may be inherited.
Amblyopia has three major causes:
- Strabismus (misaligned eyes): Amblyopia occurs most commonly with misaligned or crossed eyes. The crossed eye "turns off" to avoid double vision, and the child uses only the better eye. The misaligned eye then fails to develop good vision.
- Unequal Focus - Refractive Error: Refractive errors are eye conditions that are corrected by wearing glasses. Amblyopia occurs when one eye is out of focus because it is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other.
- Cloudiness in the Normally Clear Eye Tissues: An eye disease such as a cataract may lead to amblyopia. Any factor that prevents a clear image from being focused inside the eye can lead to the development of amblyopia in a child. This is often the most severe form of amblyopia.
To correct amblyopia, a child must be made to use the weak eye. This is usually done by patching or covering the strong eye, often for weeks or months. Glasses may be prescribed to correct errors in focusing.
If your ophthalmologist finds a cataract or other abnormality, surgery may be required to correct the problem.
Amblyopia cannot usually be cured by treating the cause alone. The weaker eye must be made stronger in order to see normally. Prescribing glasses or performing surgery can correct the cause of amblyopia, but your ophthalmologist must also treat the amblyopia itself.
Your ophthalmologist at Fort Worth Eye Associates can provide you with more information specific to your case. The above information is not intended to replace a personal exam, medical diagnosis, and/or complete treatment description by an ophthalmologist.