What is Lazy Eye and How is it Treated

Plus the Symptoms of and Risk Factors for Amblyopia 

Amblyopia, more commonly known as lazy eye, is caused by abnormal visual development early in life that changes the nerve pathways between the retina and the brain. 

The weaker or “lazy” eye receives fewer visual signals and eventually, the two eyes’ ability to work together decreases, causing the brain to suppress or ignore input from the weaker eye. This results in reduced vision.

Amblyopia generally develops from birth up to age seven and is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. It is rare that lazy eye will affect both eyes. 

It is important to get early diagnosis and treatment for your child’s lazy eye. This is because both can help prevent long-term problems with their vision. 

Symptoms of and Risk Factors for Lazy Eye

Some of the signs and symptoms of lazy eye include:

  • Eyes that appear to not work together
  • An eye that “wanders” inward or outward
  • Poor depth perception
  • Squinting or shutting an eye
  • Head tilting

Some of the risk factors associated with an increased risk of developing lazy eye include:

  • Premature birth
  • Small size at birth
  • Family history of lazy eye
  • Developmental disabilities 

It is important for parents to understand that sometimes lazy eye is not evident without an eye exam. This means that it is just as important for children to have regular eye exams as it is for adults. Left untreated, lazy eye can lead to permanent vision loss. 

Treatment Options for Lazy Eye

After an eye exam that finds lazy eye, it’s important to start treatment for the condition as soon as possible, while the connections between the retina and the brain are still forming. The best results occur when treatment starts before the age of seven, although children ages seven to seventeen respond to treatment as well.

Treatment options depend on the cause of the lazy eye and how much the condition is affecting your child’s vision. Some options your doctor might recommend include:

  • Corrective Eyewear: this is the use of glasses or contact lenses that correct problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism that result in lazy eye
  • Eye Patches: the patch is worn over the stronger eye to stimulate the weaker eye
  • Bangerter Filter: this is a special filter that is placed on the eyeglass lens of the stronger eye, blurring the vision of that eye, acting much like an eye patch would
  • Eyedrops: this is a specific medication called atropine, that temporarily blurs the vision in the stronger eye
  • Surgery: if your child has droopy eyelids or cataracts that cause deprivation amblyopia and if your child’s eye continues to wander even with the appropriate glasses, your doctor may recommend surgical repair to straighten the eye, in addition to other lazy eye treatments

Your child’s optometrist may also recommend activity-based treatments, such as drawing, doing puzzles, or playing computer games. While these therapies haven’t been proven, research is ongoing and some doctors recommend them in conjunction with other treatments. 

Treatments for lazy eye might be needed from six months to two years and can improve vision within weeks to months.

Schedule an Eye Exam for Your Child

Black Diamond Eye Care is your expert in vision for your entire family! Our optometrists provide comprehensive eye care from routine eye exams, lens fittings, and treatment for eye conditions including lazy eye. Schedule an appointment with us today at any of our 3 convenient locations in Castle Pines, Castle Rock, and Lakewood, Colorado! 




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