Sign up for Our Newsletter

Sign up below to get new article notifications, important news & exclusive deals from Keeler.

An Easy-to-Read Guide on Amblyopia

Click to Play Audio Version of this Content
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Amblyopia, or "lazy eye," is an extremely common developmental disorder in which an eye fails to attain normal visual acuity, even after using contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses. An estimated two to three percent of the U.S. population suffers from some degree of amblyopia. At Keeler, we offer cutting-edge solutions to help eye care professionals diagnose and treat amblyopia. Continue reading to learn more about this condition. 

A Closer Look at Amblyopia 

Amblyopia develops when communication between the eye and the brain breaks down. Because the poor vision happens in only one eye, the brain fails to recognize the sight from this eye. 

Over time, the brain will increasingly depend on the stronger eye, causing the weaker eye's ability to diminish. The condition is referred to as "lazy eye" because the stronger eye has stronger visual acuity. 

Amblyopia usually starts in early childhood, sometimes even in infancy. The majority of those suffering from amblyopia have only one impacted eye, but it is possible for it to occur in both eyes. If detection is early enough and treated promptly, reduced vision can be avoided; however, if a lazy eye is left untreated, it can result in permanent vision loss. The good news is early treatment is typically highly effective and can usually prevent long-term vision problems. 

What Are the Symptoms Associated with Amblyopia? 

At first, the symptoms associated with amblyopia can be difficult to notice. Children who have amblyopia may suffer from poor depth perception, which means they may struggle to determine how far or near objects are. Parents typically notice their child is having difficulty seeing by:

  • Tilting of their head
  • Closing one eye
  • Squinting

If the child is fussy when one eye is covered, this may point to amblyopia as well. For the most part, however, parents don't notice their child has amblyopia. Because of this, it's imperative for children to have regular eye exams and screenings. 

Different Types of Amblyopia

Amblyopia Strabismus  

The most common cause and type of lazy eye is strabismus. In an attempt to avoid double vision caused by eyes that are poorly aligned, the brain tends to ignore the input from the eye that is misaligned. This leads to amblyopia and lazy eye, which is known as strabismic amblyopia. 

Refractive Amblyopia  

In some instances, amblyopia is the result of uneven refractive problems in the individual's eyes — even if they are perfectly aligned. For instance, one eye can have substantial farsightedness, astigmatism, or nearsightedness, while the other eye doesn't. 

In these cases, the individual's brain will tune out the eye with the refractive error and rely more on the stronger eye. This results in anisometropic amblyopia, or refractive amblyopia. 

Deprivation Amblyopia 

Deprivation amblyopia is a type of lazy eye where light is obstructed from being properly focused in a child's eye, like congenital cataracts. Cataracts cause cloudiness in the eye lens that makes things look blurry. It's vital to have prompt treatment of these cataracts through surgery to promote normal development and prevent disability. 

Droopy Eyelid

A droopy eyelid or ptosis can also cause a child to develop amblyopia. The droopy eyelid can block a child's developing eye, which causes the condition to develop. 

What Are the Treatments for Amblyopia? 

The treatment for amblyopia will depend greatly on the type and the patient's age. For patients suffering from refractive amblyopia, they can achieve normal vision by completely correcting the refractive errors in both eyes with contact lenses or glasses. Typically, however, the good eye will need to be patched to prompt the brain to use the "lazy" eye, which can lead to normal vision development to occur in this eye. 

Lazy eye caused by misaligned eyes will usually involve surgery to properly align the eyes. Afterward, the patient may need to go through vision therapy to help both eyes work as a team. The patient may need to wear an eye patch for some period of time to make the brain recognize the previous lazy eye. If the child or individual has a difficult time wearing the eye patch, a prosthetic contact lens can be used. 

Atropine eye drops have been proven to effectively treat a lazy eye for some children. These drops work to blur vision up close in the good eye, which forces the individual to rely more heavily on the eye with amblyopia. In turn, this strengthens the lazy eye without needing to wear a patch.  

Treating Amblyopia in Older Children and Adults

For multiple years, it was believed that if treatment wasn't administered early in life, improvements in visual acuity were not possible. Today, practitioners can use different computer programs to improve contrast visual acuity and contrast sensitivity by stimulating neural changes. 

Questions? Contact Keeler today!

We have been manufacturing diagnostic ophthalmic equipment for eye care professionals for over 100 years in our vision to contribute to a world without vision loss. We have a large inventory of ultrasonic and diagnostic equipment as well as a pharmaceutical and PPE line. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call our toll free number at 1-800-523-5620 or email us at [email protected] 

About the Author Eugene VanArsdale

Eugene is the Director of Marketing Communications at Keeler Instruments. He has been with Keeler since 1982 and is co-holder of two patents for the company. Eugene has a true passion for the eye care industry and has dedicated himself to understanding the ins and outs of the optometric and ophthalmic equipment market.