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Understanding Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

by Jamie Peters

Amblyopia is a disease that develops in early childhood. It is sometimes referred to as “lazy eye” because the brain has become reliant on one eye over the other instead of using them together. Because the vision-to-brain connection develops so quickly during early childhood, it is also the best time to treat lazy eye. The older the person is, the less likely they are to respond as well to treatment options.


Amblyopia is usually a byproduct of a previous eye disease. It forms because earlier eye problems may have taught the brain to use one eye more than another and it continues even after correction of the original problem. Here are just a few examples.

  • Strabismus – a condition that causes the eyes to cross either inwards or outwards, forcing the brain to use only one eye.
  • Nearsightedness or Farsightedness – can occur in just one eye which leads to the brain favoring one of the eyes over the other.
  • Astigmatism – when the eye develops astigmatism in one eye, it will force the brain to use the other eye and rely heavily on it.
  • Deprivation – any condition that lessens the ability for a child to see out of one eye, especially when they are a baby, may result in deprivation amblyopia.


Treatment for Amblyopia can be just the opposite of the cause. Treatment options consist of different ways to trick the brain into using the weaker eye in order to strengthen the connection. One common option is called “patching”. The child will wear a patch over the dominant eye for between 2 and 6 hours a day. This forces the weaker eye to relearn how to work harder.  Another treatment option is the use of Atropine drops, which blur the vision in the dominant eye for a period of time, which will also force the weaker eye to work harder.

Early and regular visits to an optometrist in La Mesa, CA can catch this eye problem early and give your child the best chance at getting it fixed while they are still young. To schedule an eye exam, call (619) 461-4913 or submit an appointment request form while you are here on our website.


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