Amblyopia / Lazy Eye

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is an eye condition that exists when vision in one eye is reduced because the brain and that particular eye are not working together.  In patients that do not suffer from amblyipia (lazy eye), both the brain and the eyes work in tandem to produce vision.  In a normal eye, light enters the eye and is changed into nerve signals that are sent along the optic nerve to the brain.  When people are suffering from amblyopia (lazy eye), this does not occur.

Amblyopia (Lazy eye) is one of the most causes of vision problems in children, and affects approximately 2 to 3 children out of every 100.  Unless amblyopia (lazy eye) is diagnosed and treated early in childhood, the eye condition will persist into adulthood.  If left untreated, Amblyopia (lazy eye) will cause monocular visual impairment among children and adults.

Symptoms of amblyopia include:

  • Poor visual acuity
  • squinting to see
  • Closing one eye to see
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches

There are several causes of amblyopia.  One of the causes is an imbalance in the positioning of the two eyes known as strabismus.  This can cause the eyes to cross or turn out.  This imblance can also occur when one of the eyes is more nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic than the other eye.  Cataracts can also cause amblyopia (lazy eye).

Treatment of amblyopia (lazy eye) in children has been centred around making the children use the weaker eye.  This can be accomplished by using an eye drop called atropine in the stronger eye.  This treatment stimulates the vision in the weaker eye and assists the brain develop to manage vision more completely.  Another treatment of amblyopia (lazy eye) is to patch the stronger eye with an opaque patch.  This treatment takes place over a period of time and forces the children to use the eye with amblyopia.  This stimulates vision in the weaker eye and aids the brain development as well. 

There has been limited success in treated amblyopia in adults. Because of the difficulty in treating adults with amblyopia, it is important to diagnose and treat the eye condition in childhood.