What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, is a condition where the vision in an eye has not advanced sufficiently during visual development in early childhood. Amblyopia usually affects one eye, but rarely it can affect both eyes.
Amblyopia is often first diagnosed during a routine eye sight test before parents realize there’s a problem.

If left untreated, during visual development (usually before the age of 8) it can lead to permanently impaired vision. It is therefore imperative for children to have regular eye examinations from birth especially if there is any family history of amblyopia.

Causes of Amblyopia?

For normal visual development in children both eyes must receive clear images. Anything that interferes with clear vision can cause amblyopia. The most common causes of amblyopia are:

Refractive errors
Blurred vision due to uncorrected refractive errors, whether myopic, hypermetropic, asigmatic or anisometropic (different prescriptions in each eye), can result in amblyopia.

Strabismus (squint)
When the eyes are misaligned, the stronger dominant eye takes up fixation, looking forwards, and the weaker eye looks inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards and is ‘ignored’ becoming amblyopic.

Visual deprivation
Ocular pathology, such as in congenital cataracts, obscuring vision, will result in secondary amblyopia due to visual deprivation.

Amblyopia Treatment

Early treatment is always best. In most cases, refractive amblyopia can be treated in optometric practice with glasses or contact lenses and by patching (covering) the good eye for short periods.
In more severe cases, children with strabismus or other types of pathology are referred to the hospital eye clinic for surgical intervention.