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Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

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What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia is commonly referred to as lazy eye, characterized by decreased vision in one or both eyes (bilateral amblyopia).

When we are born our vision is not fully developed. From birth through 6-9 years of age, our eyes develop drastically. If one of our eyes suffers from poor development during this period, the brain will begin to favor the stronger eye and ignore images from the other. Over time this results in poor vision without treatment.  

Who Can Develop Amblyopia?

This eye condition presents itself in approximately 3% of Canadians. Amblyopia typically develops in infancy or early childhood.

What Are the Symptoms of Amblyopia?

Those with mild forms of amblyopia may not know they have the condition until they are tested later in life.

Symptoms of amblyopia present as:

  • Decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • Poor depth perception
  • Crossed or misaligned eyes

It can be difficult to notice the signs of amblyopia when they present during early childhood or infancy. The most obvious symptom – misaligned eyes – is not always there, making it difficult for parents to know if their child has amblyopia. This difficulty is amplified by the inability for young children to properly articulate what they are experiencing with their vision.

The best way to know if your child has amblyopia is through an eye exam, the first one being before they are 18 months old.

How is Amblyopia Treated?

As is with many conditions that affect the eye, amblyopia is best addressed via early detection and treatment. If we can see your child early in their life (1-5 years old) for an eye exam, we can catch and treat amblyopia before vision damage is caused to the poorly developed eye.

  • Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses – Mild cases of amblyopia can be treated through the use of only corrective eyewear.
  • Vision Therapy – If the poorly developed eye is not responding well to prescription eyewear, our Optometrist will likely recommend vision therapy.

    An eye patch is used to force the brain to use the weaker eye. Over time, new pathways are developed from the brain to the underused eye. Your child will likely see complete vision correction by the end of their course of treatment.
  • Corrective Eye Surgery – Depending on the severity of the underdevelopment in the weaker eye, this may be required prior to vision therapy.

If you are concerned you or your child has strabismus (or a vision issue of any kind), book an eye exam with one of our Optometrists.