Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a common disorder in children that occurs when vision in one eye doesn’t develop the way it should. The brain begins to favor the stronger eye and ignore the weaker one, causing one eye to wander either inward or outward. Treatment may include glasses, contacts, eye drops, eye patch therapy, or possibly surgery. About 2% of children are diagnosed with amblyopia, and early treatment is key to avoiding long-term vision problems.
Causes of Amblyopia
Misalignment of the eyes, refractive errors, and obstructions of vision are the most common causes of amblyopia. With misalignment, the brain favors input from the straight eye to avoid creating double vision, which causes a loss in visual acuity. Eyes that are properly aligned still can be affected by a refractive error, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, that can lead to amblyopia because the brain will depend on the better eye. A scar, cataracts, droopy eyelid, or other obstruction can also prevent light from reaching the eye, possibly leading to amblyopia.
Symptoms of Amblyopia
With amblyopia, the weaker — or lazy — eye often wanders inward or outward. Patients may also experience squinting, head tilting, poor depth perception, and abnormal vision screening results.
Lazy eye is more common in children who were born prematurely, experience developmental delay, or have a family history of amblyopia. It is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent long-term problems with your child’s vision.
Diagnosis of Amblyopia
Children should have regular eye screenings and should be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist if there are any signs of amblyopia. For younger children, the doctor will use a lighted magnifying device to detect cataracts. Other tests during a routine eye exam will be used to assess a child’s ability to fix their gaze and to follow moving objects.
Treatment of Amblyopia
For best results, treatment should begin before age 7, though older children typically still respond to treatment. Options may include corrective glasses or contact lenses. An eye patch might be prescribed to stimulate the weaker eye. Children typically wear the eye patch on their stronger eye about two hours a day. A special filter, called a bangerter filter, may be placed on the lens of eyeglasses to blur the view of the stronger eye. Eyedrops may also be used to blur the vision of the stronger eye. If amblyopia is caused by cataracts or a droopy eyelid, surgery may be the best remedy.
Proper treatment can typically improve the vision of a child with amblyopia within a few months. Still, it is important for the results to be monitored, as about 1 in 4 children have a reoccurrence.
What you can expect at the Cizik Eye Clinic
The Cizik Eye Clinic opened in 2007 and is housed in Memorial Hermann Plaza at 6400 Fannin Street. It includes dozens of exam areas, multiple operating rooms, and laser suites equipped with the most sophisticated equipment available for patient care.
People travel from across the country and the world for treatment at the Cizik Eye Clinic, in part because our affiliation with the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth provides unmatched resources and expertise. Our friendly staff works diligently to make your visit pleasant and efficient, as we maximize patient flow through everything from routine eye exams to the most advanced eye surgeries.
Our physicians are faculty members at McGovern Medical School and are board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology or are board eligible. At the Cizik Eye Clinic, we understand that the eye is a small part of a whole patient who deserves top-notch, comprehensive care in a cutting-edge facility.
At Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, we offer patients access to highly specialized eye and vision care. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-9400, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.