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Eye Consultants of Colorado

(303) 838-9165

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)


Commonly referred to as lazy eye, amblyopia is visual development disorder in which an eye fails to develop properly or in conjunction with the other eye. This eye condition affects approximately 3% of the American population and typically affects children during infancy and early childhood.

If one eye does not develop properly alongside the other eye, the brain will begin to favor the stronger eye and only focus on receiving that eyes images. The ignored eye gradually begins to weaken as the child continues to grow, ultimately producing vision loss.

What Causes Amblyopia?

There are 3 common causes of amblyopia:

  1. Strabismic Amblyopia – An imbalance in the 6 muscles that directly control eye movement. The brain ignores the weaker eye in order to avoid double vision from receiving two different images.
  2. Deprivation Amblyopia – Resulting from a problem in one eye that affects clear vision, such as a Cataract1.
  3. Refractive Amblyopia – Occurs when there is a significant difference between the refractive errors in each eye (Hyperopia2 or Myopia3), or when one eye has moderate Astigmatism4 and the other eye does not.

What Are The Signs of Amblyopia?

Detecting amblyopia during infancy and early childhood can often be a difficult task for parents, as their child may not be presenting visibly obvious symptoms. Because children have the ability to adapt quickly to what they are experiencing, they may not know anything is wrong with their vision or be able to properly articulate what they are experiencing.

Early detection through regular eye exams is key in preventing vision loss from amblyopia. The American Optometric Association recommends that children have a comprehensive eye exam5 by 6 months of age and again at age 3.

Amblyopia symptoms include:

  • Misaligned or crossed eyes (Strabismus6)
  • Poor depth perception
  • Decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • Tendency to bump into objects on one side

How is Amblyopia Treated?

If amblyopia is not detected and treated early on in life, permanent vision loss is inevitable.

The first step in correcting mild cases of amblyopia is typically with eyeglasses7 or contact lenses8, depending on the age of the patient.

If the weakened eye is not responding well via prescription eyewear alone, we may recommend vision therapy.

Vision therapy is a treatment program of visual activities performed to improve eye coordination and ability to focus. One of the main exercises is eye patch therapy, where the brain is forced to use the poorly developed eye by wearing an eye patch over the strong eye. Over time, the brain develops new pathways to the weak eye, increasing the communication between the two and correcting the lazy eye.  
If you suspect you or your child may have amblyopia, we invite you to book an eye exam with one of our Optometrists.