Lazy eye (amblyopia) is reduced vision in one eye caused by abnormal visual development early in life. The weaker â or lazy â eye often wanders inward or outward.
Amblyopia generally develops from birth up to age 7 years. It is the leading cause of decreased vision in one eye among children. Rarely, lazy eye affects both eyes.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent long-term problems with your child's vision. Lazy eye can usually be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, or eye patches. Sometimes surgery is required.
Signs and symptoms of lazy eye include:
Sometimes lazy eye is not evident without an eye exam.
See your child's doctor if you notice his or her eye wandering at any time after the first few weeks of life. A vision check is especially important if there's a family history of crossed eyes, childhood cataracts or other eye conditions.
For all children, a complete eye exam is recommended between ages 3 and 5.
Lazy eye develops because of abnormal visual experience early in life that changes the nerve pathways between a thin layer of tissue (retina) at the back of the eye and the brain. The weaker eye receives fewer visual signals. Eventually, the ability of the eyes to work together decreases, and the brain suppresses or ignores input from the weaker eye.
Anything that blurs a child's vision or causes the eyes to cross or turn out may result in lazy eye. Common causes of the condition include:
Your doctor will conduct a thorough eye exam, checking for eye health, a wandering eye, a difference in vision between the eyes or poor vision in both eyes. Eyedrops are generally used to dilate the eyes. The eyedrops cause blurred vision that lasts for several hours or a day.
The method used to test vision depends on your child's age and stage of development:
Untreated, lazy eye can cause permanent vision loss. Lazy eye is the cause of permanent vision loss in 2.9 percent of adults.
Factors associated with an increased risk of lazy eye include: