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Amblyopia FAQ

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What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia also commonly referred to as a "lazy eye" is when one eye has reduced vision due to an abnormal visual development early in life.  Amblyopia is a neuro-developmental disorder of the visual cortex and is thought to develop prior to the age 8, and can be caused due to asymmetric refractive error (farsightedness/astigmatism/nearsightedness) in one eye more than the other and/or if one eye turns more frequently than the other, known as strabismus.  Amblyopia is the leading cause of vision loss in children, and if not appropriately treated can lead to permanent vision loss.

What are the symptoms of amblyopia?

Many children are completely asymptomatic for amblyopia, so without evaluation could go undetected for years.  Some children do show symptoms of impairment including reduced depth perception, rubbing an eye, shutting one eye or squinting, or having a wondering eye.

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Lazy Eye amblyopia in children.Eye care.Little asian girl covered up with a special patch

How are amblyopia and strabismus treated?

Early diagnosis and intervention can prevent long-term vision problems later in life, this is why a comprehensive pediatric eye exam is so important.  Treatment options for amblyopia depend upon the type of amblyopia but can include a range of treatment options including corrective glasses, patching, filters, eye drops, dichoptic vision therapy, and strabismus management.

Is there an age cutoff for amblyopia treatment?

While studies have shown that the earlier (<7 years old) the intervention the faster and better the outcome, improvements in visual acuity of an amblyopic eye can occur after the age of 7 and even into adulthood.

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How long does treatment take?

Proper treatment usually starts to restore or improves within weeks to months of initiating treatment, but may take months up to 2+ years depending on the case, severity of the amblyopia and age of starting treatment.  Up to 25% of cases may regress so these patients may need ongoing follow up to ensure stability of treatment.


1. Holmes JM, Levi DM. Treatment of amblyopia as a function of age. Vis Neurosci. 2018 Jan;35:E015. doi: 10.1017/S0952523817000220. PMID: 29905125.

2. Levi DM, Knill DC, Bavelier D. Stereopsis and amblyopia: A mini-review. Vision Res. 2015 Sep;114:17-30. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2015.01.002. Epub 2015 Jan 29. PMID: 25637854; PMCID: PMC4519435.

3. Cleary M. Efficacy of occlusion for strabismic amblyopia: can an optimal duration be identified? Br J Ophthalmol. 2000 Jun;84(6):572-8. doi: 10.1136/bjo.84.6.572. PMID: 10837378; PMCID: PMC1723515.

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