What is a lazy eye (amblyopia)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Amblyopia is a condition that affects sight. You may have heard of it referred to as "lazy eye." When communication between the brain and one of the eyes doesn't fully develop, the brain may begin ignoring that eye. It may even move away from its central position (although not everyone with the condition shows this physical sign of lazy eye). The neglected eye will continue to see poorly. Sight will be blurred.

Ever heard of a failure to communicate? This defines amblyopia, a condition in which the eye and brain don't sync up, and vision suffers, even though eye structures are normal. Wearing an eye patch over the eye with normal sight could help correct vision in the "lazy" eye.

Good vision develops during childhood when both eyes have normal alignment. Strabismus may cause reduced vision, or amblyopia, in the misaligned eye.

The brain will pay attention to the image of the straight eye and ignore the image of the crossed eye. If the same eye is consistently ignored during early childhood, this misaligned eye may fail to develop good vision, or may even lose vision. Strabismic amblyopia occurs in approximately half of the children who have strabismus.

Amblyopia can be treated by blurring or patching the “good” eye to strengthen and improve vision in the weaker eye. If amblyopia is detected in the first few years of life, treatment is usually successful.

If treatment is delayed, amblyopia may become permanent. As a rule, the earlier amblyopia is treated, the better the result for vision.

Continue Learning about Lazy Eye

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.