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Eye Health Center

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Amblyopia and Your Child's Eyes

Amblyopia, commonly called lazy eye, is a condition 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. Vision impairment becomes permanent, because as the child’s brain matures, it will "ignore" the image coming from the poorly seeing eye. That’s why it’s essential to have a child with amblyopia regularly tested by an eye doctor.

What Causes Amblyopia?

Amblyopia usually starts when one eye has much better focus than the other eye. For example, one eye might be very farsighted or have a lot of astigmatism, while the other does not. When a child's brain is confronted with both a blurry image and a clear one, it begins to ignore the blurry image. If this goes on for months or years in a young child, the vision in the eye that sees the blurry image will deteriorate.

Another cause of amblyopia is strabismus, which is an ocular misalignment, meaning that one eye turns inward or outward. This prevents the eyes from focusing together on an image and may cause double vision. To combat this, the child's brain generally chooses to ignore the image from the deviated eye, causing the vision in that eye to deteriorate. It’s this misalignment of the eyes that leads some people to call amblyopia "lazy eye."

In other cases, a child cannot see well in one eye because something blocks light from getting through, such as a cataract or a small amount of blood or other material in the back of the eye.

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