What is a lazy eye – symptoms and definition

“Lazy eye” refers to an eye condition known as amblyopia. According to WebMD, amblyopia occurs “in children when vision does not develop properly, usually in one eye. If it’s left untreated, a child’s vision will never develop correctly in the affected eye”. Children need to have their vision tested often to ensure that both eyes are developing vision properly. The body essentially learns to ignore the bad eye, if left untreated, and this can lead to poor vision being irreversible when the child is older.

How to test for amblyopia

All About Vision explains that if your child has crossed eyes or any obvious misalignment of the eyes this is an indicator of lazy eye. In these cases, you should make an appointment with an eye care professional immediately. You can also do a basic self-test at home by covering each of your child’s eyes, one at a time. If your child is bothered by one eye being covered, but not the other, this could be an indication that one eye’s vision is stronger or more clear than the other and the child should be given a thorough eye exam from an eye care professional.

What is lazy eye – 3 common types of lazy eye

There are three common types of lazy eye, categorized by their underlying cause. All About Vision lists the following three types of amblyopia: strabismic amblyopia, refractive amblyopia, and deprivation amblyopia.

Strabismic amblyopia is caused by a misalignment of the eyes. The brain tunes out the misaligned eye and focuses only on the vision of the correctly aligned eye.

Refractive amblyopia is the result of different refractive errors in each eye.

Deprivation amblyopia is caused by light being unable to enter into a child’s eye.

How to fix a lazy eye

Eye patch for lazy eyeThe best way to fix a lazy eye is to catch it early in children and to force the weak eye to strengthen its vision. This is usually done by wearing an eye patch over the strong eye, therefore requiring that the weak eye do all of the vision work. In some cases, the amblyopia can be reversed with simple refractive treatments, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, but this is more rare. In cases of strabismic amblyopia, where the lazy eye is caused by a misalignment, surgery can be performed to correctly align the eye and improve vision.

Lazy eye surgery

Stabismic amblyopia can be corrected with surgery. All About Vision explains that this type of amblyopia is often treated with “strabismus surgery to straighten the eyes, followed by eye patching and often some form of vision therapy (also called orthoptics) to help both eyes work together equally as a team”. The surgery consists of strengthening and/or weakening the muscles that control the movement of the eye to create better alignment and therefore improve vision in the weak eye.

The best way to correct lazy eye, however, is just to catch it early in children. If you suspect that your child may have a lazy eye, reach out to your eye care professional immediately and schedule an eye exam.