Submitted by abigailnprescott on Mon, 04/18/2022 - 17:00

Amblyopia, also referred to as “lazy eye”, is a type of visual impairment characterized by a decrease in visual acuity in either one or both eyes. It is due to physiological abnormalities in the visual pathway. What causes these abnormalities is still unknown.

Amblyopia is the most common cause of preventable childhood blindness. Most commonly, amblyopia is unilateral, meaning that one eye is much stronger than the other. However, bilateral amblyopia can occur when visual acuity is low in both eyes, but it is much less common. 

Strabismus is an eye condition where the eyes do not point in the same direction. This is a common condition that accompanies amblyopia, and is a primary risk factor for developing it. Other risk factors include having unequal refractive errors in both eyes, cataracts, and far-sightedness. 

Treatment for unilateral amblyopia typically involves covering the stronger eye so that the weaker eye can get stronger. This is most effective for young children, as their brains can adjust to this change. Amblyopia gets much harder to treat when it is diagnosed in older children. 

Even after this type of treatment, very few children will be able to achieve normal visual acuity, and will need corrective lenses. Due to the variability in outcomes with patching the strong eye, different treatment options are being explored by researchers.