Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a condition in which the vision in one or both eyes does not develop appropriately during early childhood. It affects approximately 1 in every 25 people. Almost half of the amblyopia cases are due to a misalignment of the eyes. The other half is caused by a combination of factors including high and/or asymmetric refractive errors or structural abnormalities of the eye such as a cataract.
Amblyopia can be difficult to detect without an eye exam. If untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss. Children achieve the best long-term vision if treatment starts as early as possible, although children as old as 17 also benefit from treatment.
A complete eye exam is the first step to developing an effective treatment plan. During this exam, the ophthalmologist may use several testing methods to determine the severity of the condition and the best course of treatment.
Visual Acuity - The patient reads letters from an eye chart to evaluate the vision. Very young children may be tested by looking at pictures instead of letters.
Motility Exam - A doctor examines the eyes to see if they are properly aligned and if there is any muscle dysfunction.
Refraction - As part of the exam, the doctor places a series of corrective lenses in front of the eyes to find the correct lens power the patient needs to compensate for a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism).
Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses - Special eyeglasses or contact lenses help straighten the eyes in some patients.
Patching - Patching the normal eye a few hours each day forces the weaker eye to work harder. Over time, the vision in the weak eye becomes stronger, which may improve eye alignment.
Medicated Eye Drops - Young children who cannot tolerate an eye patch may benefit from atropine eye drops. These drops temporarily blur vision in the normal eye, making the weaker eye work harder. This strengthens the vision in the affected eye.
Eye Surgery - If conservative treatments are not sufficient, an eye surgeon operates to weaken or strengthen the eye muscles and realign the eyes. Surgery helps children whose eyes cross or wander apart or who have droopy eyelids or cataracts.
Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?
The Nation’s Number One Eye Care Provider. A difficult eye disorder requires highly skilled care. Ophthalmologists at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami, use leading-edge research and the latest treatments to realign the eyes and restore normal visual development. On 16 occasions, U.S. News & World Report ranked Bascom Palmer Number One in America for ophthalmology.
Compassionate Vision Care. If you or your child struggle with a visual disorder, you deserve compassion and understanding. Our caring team guides you to the best treatment option and helps you manage your condition throughout the process.
Pediatric Eye Specialists. When your infant or child has an eye disorder that could lead to permanent vision problems, early intervention is key. Our pediatric eye doctors are trained to diagnose and treat the youngest patients. Their skill, combined with their passion for restoring vision, helps your child achieve the best possible results.