What is lazy eye (amblyopia)?


What causes lazy eye?

Usually there is an underlying cause affecting the visual development of the eye, which causes the eye to react too slowly. Below are some of the possible lazy eye causes:


In this condition, a muscular imbalance in the eye causes the eyes to turn cross-eyed, or turn outwards. The eyes are therefore unable to align in the same direction, creating a cross-eyed effect.


Anisometropic amblyopia

This is when there is an unequal refractive error in the eyes. Because refractive errors cause near-sightedness, astigmatism, and farsightedness, this would cause you to have blurred vision as well as having a lazy eye.


Stimulus deprivation amblyopia

In this form of amblyopia, one eye is not able to see properly, and therefore becomes weaker than the more dominant eye. It can be caused by the presence of a corneal ulcer, an eye tissue scar, a droopy eyelid, glaucoma, eye injury or surgery, or a cataract present in a baby's eye.


What are the symptoms of a lazy eye?

Common symptoms of lazy eye are the following:

  • One eye or both eyes having blurred vision
  • Inability to focus properly on an object with one eye – this strains the other eye, as it has to compensate for the affected eye, which can lead to eye fatigue
  • The impaired eye is unable to perceive images in depth
  • Double vision
  • Both eyes have weak coordination and function separately

Aesthetically, one eye may be in a more upward, downward, inward or outward position compared to the other.


How can you treat lazy eye in children?

Parents whose children have a lazy eye should get their child's eye checked while their child is between 3–5 years old. This is crucial, as this is the age for development, and if neglected, the child may end up with a permanent lazy eye. Lazy eye in adults is much harder to treat.

In a baby, lazy eye is harder to detect, so it is worth waiting until the child is a little older.

People who are familiar with amblyopia in adults or children in their family history should not delay getting their children checked for amblyopia. Having your child’s eyes checked at the earliest convenience, and getting lazy eye treatment if needed, could save them from headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue or visual impairment.

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