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Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired- Jules Renard

Did you know that there are times when your eye also becomes lazy? It is a condition called Amblyopia or Lazy Eye.


What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia is a condition in which there is reduced visual acuity because of abnormal development of vision during infancy and early childhood. It usually affects one eye. It is the most common cause of vision problems in children.


What causes Amblyopia?

This is a condition in which vision loss can occur even without any structural damage to the eye. When one eye suffers from a decrease in vision, it keeps on sending blurry images to the brain. Slowly, the brain starts to ignore the signals received from this eye and favours the better eye, making the other eye ‘lazy’. There are a number of conditions which may cause one eye to send blurry images:

1. Strabismus:
This is the most common cause of amblyopia. When your child has strabismus or squint, his eyes are not aligned properly. In order to avoid double vision, the brain turns off the input coming from the misaligned eye, turning it into a lazy eye. This is called strabismic amblyopia.
2. Refractive Errors:
Sometimes there may be unequal refractive errors in the two eyes. For eg, one eye may have significant farsightedness or nearsightedness in one eye, while the other eye does not. In such cases, the brain ‘tunes out’ the images received from the eye and relies on the images sent by the eye with lesser error, causing amblyopia in that eye from disuse. This type is called refractive amblyopia.
3. Anatomical abnormality:
Your child may suffer from cataract (clouding of the lens) or abnormal central retina or abnormal eye shape or size difference between the two eyes. A tumour may also be present. This kind of Amblyopia can affect both eyes. It develops when cataracts or similar conditions ‘deprive’ your child’s eyes of visual experience. This type is called deprivational amblyopia.


Does my child have a Lazy Eye? (Signs and Symptoms)

An eye that wanders outward or inward



yes that do not appear to work together

Improper perception of depth

You may also notice your child fussing or crying if you happen to cover the ‘good’ eye.


How is it tested?

Amblyopia is diagnosed with a complete examination of your child’s eyes. Usually, special tests are not required.


How are Lazy Eyes treated?

Firstly, the condition that is responsible for causing poor vision in the lazy eye needs to be treated.

If it is a refractive error that is causing the trouble, your child may need glasses. Early treatment is the best children with refractive errors can wear glasses or contact lenses when they as young as one week old!

Strabismus and cataracts may be treated by surgery.

Then a patch is placed on your child’s normal eye. Thus the brain is forced to start recognising images from the lazy eye. Patching may involve placing a band aid directly over the skin around the eye or placing cloth / semi-transparent stickers onto the spectacles. Though vision improvement mostly occurs within weeks of patching, it may be months before optimal results are seen. Once vision has improved, maintenance treatment (part time patching) may be advised for several months to years to prevent the vision from slipping. 

If a patch does not go too well with your child, drops may be put into the child’s normal eye to blur his vision.


What are the chances of recovery?

Children who undergo treatment before 5 years of age usually recover full vision in their lazy eye. Some of them may continue to have troubles with depth perception.

After age 10, you can expect only a partial recovery of vision.


What are the Complications?

The affected eye can go on to develop permanent loss of vision.


How can I prevent Lazy eye in my child?

Early detection and treatment is very vital to prevent permanent vision loss. Ensure that your child undergoes a complete eye examination at least once between the ages of 3 to 5 years.

Special techniques are needed for testing if your child is too small to speak. A Paediatric Ophthalmologist is trained to carry out these tests.