Amblyopia is a childhood problem that happens when one eye

is weaker than the other. The brain chooses to take in images from the stronger

eye and ignore images from the weaker eye. This means that your child uses the

strong eye more than the weak eye. If the weak eye doesn't have to work, it isn't

able to develop good vision. This leads to poor vision in the weaker eye.

Amblyopia usually affects only one eye.

The problem starts between birth and about age 7. Your child

may not even know that he or she is using only one eye. Ignoring the images

from the weak eye is an automatic response. Your child has no control over it.  Early treatment usually can reverse amblyopia. The younger

your child is when treatment starts, the more likely your child is to have good


Amblyopia is sometimes called "lazy eye."

 What causes


Any condition that prevents your child's eyes from forming a

clear, focused image or that prevents the normal use of one or both eyes can

cause amblyopia. It may happen when:

The eyes do not focus on the same object. This is called

strabismus. For example, one eye may point straight while the other looks in

another direction. This sends two different images to the brain. In a young

child who has strabismus, the brain chooses to receive the images from only one


Your child is much more nearsighted or farsighted in one eye

than in the other. If one eye sees much more clearly than the other, the brain

ignores the blurry image from the weaker eye.

A problem prevents light from entering the eye for a long

period of time. A problem in the lens, such as a cataract, or in the clear

"window" at the front of the eye (the cornea) may cause amblyopia.

These types of problems are rare but serious. Without early treatment, your

child may never develop normal vision in the affected eye.

Your child may be more likely to have amblyopia if someone

else in your family had it or if your child had a premature birth or low birth


What are the


In most cases, amblyopia does not cause symptoms. But your

child may:

 How is amblyopia


 Your child's doctor will do an eye exam. If the exam shows

that your child has poor vision in one eye, the doctor may diagnose amblyopia

after ruling out other causes.

To help make the diagnosis, the doctor will ask about

symptoms, any family members who have had vision problems, other possible risk

factors such as low birth weight, and whether your child has trouble reading,

seeing the board in school, or watching TV.

Experts suggest that children have an eye checkup between

the ages of 3 and 5, and earlier in some cases . . . 1

If you worry about your child's eyes or vision, take him or her to an eye

doctor. No child is too young for an eye exam.

 How is it treated?

For amblyopia to be treated, your child must use the weak

eye. This will force the eye to get stronger. Over time this corrects the

vision in the weak eye.

Your doctor may suggest:


Blocking the strong eye with an eye patch.


Blurring the strong eye with eyedrops or


 Your child may have to wear the patch or glasses all the

time or for just part of each day. Treatment may last for a few weeks or

months. Severe cases may take longer.

If another problem is causing the amblyopia, such as a

cataract, it also needs to be treated.

Treatment is best started before age 6 and should begin

before your child's vision has fully developed, around age 9 or 10. Later

treatment will most likely be less helpful but may still improve vision in some

cases. A child with amblyopia who does not get treatment may have poor vision

for life.

After treatment ends, be sure to set up follow-up eye exams

for your child as amblyopia can return even after successful treatment.

How can you help your child cope with treatment?

 Treatment sounds simple, but using an eye patch or glasses

may bother your child. To help your child:


Explain that the glasses or patch will help his

or her vision get better.


Tell your child?s friends, teachers, coaches,

and others about the eye problem and what you and your child have to do for it.

Ask for their help.


Use the patch, glasses, or eyedrops as your

doctor says.


If possible, decorate the patch with your child.

First, ask your doctor if it's okay.


Do fun things, such as coloring and crafts, when

your child is wearing the patch or glasses. This will help your child use the

weak eye.