What Is Amblyopia ?
Am•bly•o•pi•a: An eye
problem in young children
that can lead to blindness
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
The New York City Department of Education
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner
Joel I. Klein, Chancellor
WHAT CAUSES IT?
There are three major causes.
1. Misaligned eyes (“strabismus”).
Amblyopia is most often caused by misaligned or crossed
eyes. When a child’s eyes do not line up properly, the brain
turns off one eye to avoid double vision.
2. Unequal focus.
Amblyopia can also result when one eye sees better than
the other – for example, when one eye is very nearsighted.
The stronger eye is used more than the weaker eye, and
eventually, the stronger eye takes over completely, and the
weaker eye stops working.
3. Cataracts and other problems.
Amblyopia caused by cataracts (cloudiness in the eye tissues)
is less common, but more severe. It must be treated in the first
2 months of life.
Amblyopia (am-blee-oh-pee-ah) is the medical name
for “lazy eye.” It can lead to reduced vision in an eye
that isn’t used enough early in childhood.
Amblyopia affects 2 or 3 out of every 100 children.
If untreated, it can cause blindness in the underused eye.
WHAT IS AMBLYOPIA?
2. Then, the weaker eye can be strengthened.
Patching or covering one eye may be
required. The better-seeing eye is
patched, forcing the “lazy” one to work.
Medication (eye drops or ointment) may
be used to blur the vision of the stronger
eye to force the weaker one to work.
This technique is usually used only for
HOW LONG DOES TREATMENT LAST?
Treatment may be required for a few weeks to as long as a year.
After treatment, children need frequent check-ups until the age
of 9 or 10 to make sure that amblyopia does not return.
Tips for helping your child wear an eye patch
Make sure your child knows wearing a patch is important.
Never punish or criticize your child for not cooperating
perfectly with treatment.