home

How could we improve it?

close
chevron
This article contains false or inaccurate information.
chevron

Please tell us what was incorrect.

wanring-icon
Please note that you do not need to fill this detail if it's inconvenient for you. Click Send My Opinion below to continue reading our site.
chevron
This article doesn't provide enough info.
chevron

Please tell us what was missing.

wanring-icon
Please note that you do not need to fill this detail if it's inconvenient for you. Click Send My Opinion below to continue reading our site.
chevron
Hmm... I have a question.
chevron

We’re unable to offer personal health advice, diagnosis, or treatment, but we welcome your feedback! Just type it in the box below.

wanring-icon
If you're facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

Or copy link

New

Lazy Eye in Children: Causes and Treatment

Lazy Eye in Children: Causes and Treatment

Amblyopia, usually referred to as “lazy eye,” is a common condition among babies and kids. What causes lazy eye in children, and how can it be corrected?

Amblyopia, defined

Amblyopia happens when one of the eyes has reduced vision because it didn’t develop properly. Since the weaker eye has poorer vision, the brain “ignores” it and over time, only learns to work with the stronger eye. Although rare, it’s also possible for amblyopia to affect both eyes.

The earlier your child gets treatment for lazy eye, the better. According to experts, the brain and eyes are still learning to work together from age 1 to 7. That’s why if you treat amblyopia during that stage, the chance that he or she will develop normal vision increases.

Child Eye Care Tips for Parents

Causes of lazy eye in children

Amblyopia can develop due to other eye-related problems like:

Strabismus

Strabismus, which we often refer to as “duling” or “banlag” occurs when the eyes are not working together. In other words, they are misaligned or not “looking” in the same direction.

When one eye focuses straight ahead while the other one can move to the left, right, up, or down, the misaligned eye is often weaker. Over time, the brain ignores the images sent by the weaker and deviating eye, that’s why it becomes lazy.

Note: Some people use lazy eye and strabismus interchangeably, but please note that they are not the same.

lazy eye in children

Refractive errors

Another possible cause of lazy eye in children is a refractive error, which occurs when the eyes do not bend the light correctly, causing blurry vision. When one of the eyes experiences a more severe refractive error, it can also become amblyopic.

Children can experience any of the following types of refractive errors:

  • Myopia or nearsightedness, when they cannot see clearly unless the object is close to their eyes.
  • Hyperopia or farsightedness, when they cannot see clearly unless the object is far from their eyes.
  • Astigmatism, when they see blurry images.

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eyes’ normally transparent lens is cloudy. If your child is born with a cataract on one eye, the brain might also ignore it, causing a lazy eye.

Ptosis

Ptosis is another condition that interferes with a child’s vision.

Also called “droopy eyelid,” ptosis happens when one or both of the upper eyelids are lower than normal. Since the droopy eyelid interferes with a child’s vision (it blocks a portion of the visual field), the brain may not work with the affected eye, leading to amblyopia.

7 Signs that Your Child Might Need Glasses

Risk factors for amblyopia in children

Besides the above-mentioned causes, note that the following factors also increase a child’s risk of developing amblyopia:

  • Family history of lazy eye
  • Developmental delay
  • Premature birth
  • Genetic conditions, like Down Syndrome
  • Craniofacial disorders

Treatment of lazy eye in children

The goal of treating amblyopia includes:

  • Correcting the condition that causes lazy eye
  • Force the brain to recognize the signals coming from the weaker eye; usually, this means making the child use their lazy eye.
  • Make the eyes work together.

Common treatment options are:

Eye patch

One of the most common ways to treat lazy eye in children is to have them wear an eye patch to cover the stronger eye. This way, they will be forced to use the weaker eye, which may strengthen in the long run.

Eye drops

In some instances, the doctor may opt for eye drops that blur the stronger eye’s vision. As a result, the child will be forced to see things using their lazy eye.

Eyeglasses

Finally, the doctor may decide on eyeglasses that can correct the refractive error, allowing the brain to recognize the clear image coming from both eyes.

Reminders

Even if you suspect lazy eye in your child, please don’t make them wear an eye patch without consulting an eye doctor.

Only the doctor can diagnose their vision problems and decide on treatment strategies. They will also be able to tell you how often and for how long your child needs to wear or use an eye patch, drops, or glasses.

Learn more about Other Child Health Issues here.

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

Sources

Amblyopia: What Is Lazy Eye?
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amblyopia-lazy-eye
Accessed January 6, 2021

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/amblyopia-lazy-eye
Accessed January 6, 2021

Amblyopia | Diagnosis & Treatment
https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/a/amblyopia/diagnosis-and-treatment
Accessed January 6, 2021

Amblyopia
https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/amblyopia.html
Accessed January 6, 2021

Lazy eye (amblyopia)
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lazy-eye/symptoms-causes/syc-20352391
Accessed January 6, 2021

Picture of the author
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. on Jan 06
x