Amblyopia is commonly known as a "lazy eye" and is described as reduced vision in one eye compared to the other. Less commonly there are forms of amblyopia that involve both eyes. According to the National Institute of Health, amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment among children.
A "lazy eye" is not lazy at all. Recent research has shown that amblyopia is a disorder of the brain's ability to use both eyes together as a team. Amblyopia is an active process due to suppression, or the brain actively ignoring the information coming from one eye. In addition to poor visual acuity, people with amblyopia are more prone to have difficulties with depth perception, eye movements related to reading, and visual decision making in driving.
Amblyopia only develops in childhood due to:
It is important to note that a child with amblyopia rarely has any symptoms. Comprehensive eye examinations are the best way to identify children who are at risk for or whom already have amblyopia.
Amblyopia is treatable at any age, although the earlier the problem is found and treated the more successful the outcomes tend to be. Until recently, patching or punishing the better seeing eye was the only proven method of treating amblyopia. Recent research has shown that a binocular approach to treating amblyopia may be an effective alternative to patching only. If amblyopia can be treated with less reliance on patching then it may help avoid unnecessary emotional stress on a child or the family.
Treatment may include:
Content provided by the Canadian Association of Optometrists