Amblyopia, or "lazy eye," is the most common cause of visual impairment in children. It happens when an eye fails to work properly with the brain. The eye may look normal, but the brain favors the other eye. In some cases, it can affect both eyes. Causes include
- Strabismus - a disorder in which the two eyes don't line up in the same direction
- Refractive error in an eye - when one eye cannot focus as well as the other, because of a problem with its shape. This includes nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
- Cataract - a clouding in the lens of the eye
It can be hard to diagnose amblyopia. It is often found during a routine vision exam.
Treatment for amblyopia forces the child to use the eye with weaker vision. There are two common ways to do this. One is to have the child wear a patch over the good eye for several hours each day, over a number of weeks to months. The other is with eye drops that temporarily blur vision. Each day, the child gets a drop of a drug called atropine in the stronger eye. It is also sometimes necessary to treat the underlying cause. This could include glasses or surgery.
NIH: National Eye Institute
- Amblyopia: What Is the Cause of Lazy Eye? (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
Statistics and Research
- Researchers Find Essential Brain Circuit in Visual Development (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Amblyopia (National Institutes of Health)