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Lazy Eye Causes and Treatment in Adults: How to Manage

Medically reviewed by Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO · Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Shienna Santelices · Updated May 21, 2021

Lazy Eye Causes and Treatment in Adults: How to Manage

Amblyopia, also called “lazy eye,” is an abnormal development of one of the eyes. It occurs when the brain only sends signals to only one eye, leaving the other eye failing to achieve normal vision. It also leads to poor visual performance of one eye while the other’s vision has developed. A lazy eye does not differ in the appearance of a normal eye. However, it often moves and looks in different directions. Learn more about lazy eye causes and treatment here. 

 This condition often develops from birth up to 7 years of age. If left untreated, the brain will learn to completely ignore one eye and lead to vision impairment or loss.

In some rare cases, both eyes are possible to be affected. However, weak vision or vision loss is avoidable if lazy eye causes and treatment are diagnosed early on. In this article, the most common lazy eye causes and treatments applicable for every stage will be discussed.

Lazy Eye Causes and Treatment

Most of the causes of lazy eye are related to the brain’s inability to process signals from one eye. It disrupts the development of the vision in either one or both eyes. Some of the causes include: 

Muscle Imbalance

Amblyopia happens when the muscles that position the eyes fail to work, which might prevent either one or both eyes from functioning together. This imbalance in the eye muscles can cause poor visual performance that may later result in amblyopia.

Refractive Errors

This happens when the other eye has a stronger focus than the other one. In some instances, one eye may experience nearsightedness or farsightedness. If the brain has fixed the vision, it will completely ignore the eye with a weaker visual performance that often leads to a lazy eye.


This happens when the eye gets a cloudy lens that may disrupt the development of a clear vision. This condition is called a cataract. The only treatment for this condition that will help to prevent permanent vision loss is cataract surgery.

This can also happen when proper vision is blocked and the eye cannot perform its function such as eye swelling, cellulitis, eyelid mass, etc.


It is an eye condition where the upper eyelid tends to droop or fall. It can block the development of a vision that may lead to amblyopia.


This pertains to the damage in the development of vision because of the high pressure. It often damages the optic nerve.


The symptoms of amblyopia may be hard to distinguish unless it becomes severe. Here are the easy-to-determine symptoms of early-stage amblyopia:

  • Poor Depth Perception. This is the inability to see things in three-dimension and has difficulty in determining the distance between two objects. Thus, a person could not tell if the gap is neither far nor near.
  • Squinting Eye. Both eyes are looking inward or outward with eyes mostly closed to see more distinguishable images.
  • Head Tilting. An action such as head tilting can be one of the symptoms. It presumes that one eye has better vision than the other.
  • Strabismus. It is a condition where the eyes are misaligned – either crossed or looking in opposing directions. 
  • lazy eye causes and treatment


    Treatment for amblyopia varies depending on the severity of the condition and patient’s preference. The research for better treatment options is still ongoing. However, here are some existing treatments that can help correct vision brought by lazy eye:

    • Glasses or Contact Lens. Using corrective glasses or contact lenses can help correct eye vision. However, it is only applicable to the eye that has nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Usually, this kind of treatment is only appropriate for an early diagnosed amblyopia.
    • Eye Patch. In this treatment, the eye to be covered with a patch is the one with better vision. It designs to let the brain focus only on the development of an eye with poor vision. It usually takes two to six hours a day, depending on the severity of amblyopia. If it takes more than the prescribed hours, the covered eye is also likely to develop amblyopia.
    • Bangerter Filter. This is a special filter placed on one of the lenses of eyeglasses with stronger vision. It works like an eyepatch that helps the weaker to develop its visual performance.
    • Eye Drops. An eyedrop medication called atropine temporarily blurs out the eye with stronger vision. This is usually prescribed for daily use or even on weekends. However, there might be side effects such as eye irritation or light sensitivity.
    • Training. Games and activity-based training also help in improving the imbalance vision of patients such as computer games, puzzles, and drawings. However, this is not enough to completely treat amblyopia.
    • Surgery. This adjusts the position of the eye and its muscles. However, after-surgery requires additional treatments, such as using eye patches, for the vision to be corrected. The success rate of amblyopia surgery varies from around 30% to 80%.

    Key Takeaways

    Lazy eye or amblyopia is an eye condition in which one eye has a stronger vision than the other. It usually occurs in newborn children and kids ages up to 7 years old. The most common cause is a brain-to-eye signal malfunction. If the lazy eye causes and treatment are not determined at an early stage, it can cause vision loss or blindness. Treatments can help to fix the imbalance vision of both eyes if it is determined before it becomes worse.

    Learn more about Eye Diseases here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO

    Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Shienna Santelices · Updated May 21, 2021

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