Abnormal visual development early in life can cause reduced vision in one eye, which often wanders inward or outward.
Lazy eye (amblyopia) is reduced vision in one eye caused by abnormal visual development early in life. The weaker — or lazy — eye often wanders inward or outward.
Amblyopia generally develops from birth up to age 7 years. It is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. Rarely, lazy eye affects both eyes.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent long-term problems with your child's vision. The eye with poorer vision can usually be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, or patching therapy.
Signs and symptoms of lazy eye include:
Sometimes lazy eye is not evident without an eye exam.
See your child's doctor if you notice his or her eye wandering after the first few weeks of life. A vision check is especially important if there's a family history of crossed eyes, childhood cataracts or other eye conditions.
For all children, a complete eye exam is recommended between ages 3 and 5.
Lazy eye develops because of abnormal visual experience early in life that changes the nerve pathways between a thin layer of tissue (retina) at the back of the eye and the brain. The weaker eye receives fewer visual signals. Eventually, the eyes' ability to work together decreases, and the brain suppresses or ignores input from the weaker eye.
Anything that blurs a child's vision or causes the eyes to cross or turn out can result in lazy eye. Common causes of the condition include:
Difference in sharpness of vision between the eyes (refractive amblyopia). A significant difference between the prescriptions in each eye — often due to farsightedness but sometimes to nearsightedness or an uneven surface curve of the eye (astigmatism) — can result in lazy eye.
Glasses or contact lenses are typically used to correct these refractive problems. In some children lazy eye is caused by a combination of strabismus and refractive problems.
Factors associated with an increased risk of lazy eye include:
Untreated, lazy eye can cause permanent vision loss.
Your doctor will conduct an eye exam, checking for eye health, a wandering eye, a difference in vision between the eyes or poor vision in both eyes. Eyedrops are generally used to dilate the eyes. The eyedrops cause blurred vision that lasts for several hours or a day.
The method used to test vision depends on your child's age and stage of development:
It's important to start treatment for lazy eye as soon as possible in childhood, when the complicated connections between the eye and the brain are forming. The best results occur when treatment starts before age 7, although half of children between the ages of 7 and 17 respond to treatment.
Treatment options depend on the cause of lazy eye and on how much the condition is affecting your child's vision. Your doctor might recommend:
Activity-based treatments — such as drawing, doing puzzles or playing computer games — are available. The effectiveness of adding these activities to other therapies hasn't been proved. Research into new treatments is ongoing.
For most children with lazy eye, proper treatment improves vision within weeks to months. Treatment might last from six months to two years.
It's important for your child to be monitored for recurrence of lazy eye — which can happen in up to 25 percent of children with the condition. If lazy eye recurs, treatment will need to start again.
Your child's doctor might refer you to a doctor who specializes in treating eye disorders in children (pediatric ophthalmologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready.
Make a list of the following:
For lazy eye, questions to ask your doctor include:
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:
August 20th, 2021