Do you have a ‘lazy eye’?

  • Published
  • By Capt. Bobby Sarivannara, 6th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, optometry flight commander

Amblyopia, also commonly referred to as a “lazy eye”, is a vision disorder in which the brain fails to fully process input from one eye and, over time, favors the other eye.

This results in decreased vision in an eye that typically appears normal in other respects.

Amblyopia is the most common cause of decreased vision in a single eye among children and younger adults.

The cause of amblyopia can be any condition that interferes with focusing during early childhood. This can occur from poor alignment of the eyes (strabismic – an eye turn), one eye being more nearsighted or farsighted than the other (refractive), or clouding of the lens of an eye (deprivational).

After the underlying cause is addressed, vision is not restored right away, as the mechanism also involves the brain.

Amblyopia can be difficult to detect and even diagnose, so vision testing is recommended for all children around the ages of four to five and even as early as one to two.

Early detection improves treatment success while visual development occurs. Glasses may be all the treatment needed for some children. If this is not sufficient, additional treatments that encourage the child to use the weaker eye are used. This can be achieved by patching or using atropine in the stronger eye.

Without treatment, amblyopia typically persists. Treatment in adulthood is usually much less effective but vision therapy has shown to decrease or stabilize progression.

Amblyopia typically begins by the age of five. In adults, the disorder is estimated to affect 1–5% of the population.

While treatment improves vision, it does not typically restore it to normal in the affected eye. The condition may cause ineligibility in certain professions such as pilots or police officers.

For more information or to schedule an eye exam, please contact the 6th OMRS optometry flight (813) 827-9102.