Condition 101

What is the definition of Amblyopia?

Amblyopia is the loss of the ability to see clearly through one eye. It is also called "lazy eye." It is the most common cause of vision problems in children.

What are the alternative names for Amblyopia?

Lazy eye; Vision loss - amblyopia

What are the causes for Amblyopia?

Amblyopia occurs when the nerve pathway from one eye to the brain does not develop during childhood. This problem develops because the abnormal eye sends a blurred image or the wrong image to the brain.

This confuses the brain, and the brain may learn to ignore the image from the weaker eye.

Strabismus (crossed eyes) is the most common cause of amblyopia. There is often a family history of this condition.

The term "lazy eye" refers to amblyopia, which often occurs along with strabismus. However, amblyopia can occur without strabismus. Also, people can have strabismus without amblyopia.

Other causes include:

  • Childhood cataracts
  • Farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism, especially if it is greater in one eye

What are the symptoms for Amblyopia?

Symptoms of the condition include:

  • Eyes that turn in or out
  • Eyes that do not appear to work together
  • Inability to judge depth correctly
  • Poor vision in one eye

What are the current treatments for Amblyopia?

The first step will be to correct any eye condition that is causing poor vision in the amblyopic eye (such as cataracts).

Children with a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism) will need glasses.

Next, a patch is placed on the normal eye. This forces the brain to recognize the image from the eye with amblyopia. Sometimes, drops are used to blur the vision of the normal eye instead of putting a patch on it. Newer techniques use computer technology, to show a slightly different image to each eye. Over time, the vision between the eyes becomes equalized.

Children whose vision will not fully recover, and those with only one good eye due to any disorder should wear glasses. These glasses should be shatter- and scratch-resistant.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Amblyopia?

Children who get treated before age 5 almost always recover vision that is close to normal. However, they may continue to have problems with depth perception.

Permanent vision problems may result if treatment is delayed. Children treated after age 10 can expect vision to recover only partially.

What are the possible complications for Amblyopia?

Complications may include:

  • Eye muscle problems that may require several surgeries
  • Permanent vision loss in the affected eye

When should I contact a medical professional for Amblyopia?

Call your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you suspect a vision problem in a young child.

How do I prevent Amblyopia?

Identifying and treating the problem early prevents children from having permanent visual loss. All children should have a complete eye exam at least once between ages 3 and 5.

Special methods are used to measure vision in a child who is too young to speak. Most eye care professionals can perform these techniques.


Diamond GR, Shah RM. Amblyopia. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 11.12.

Kraus CL, Culican SM. New advances in amblyopia therapy I: binocular therapies and pharmacologic augmentation. B J Ophthalmol. 2018 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 29777043

Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer LS, Stahl ED, Ariss MM, Lindquist TP. Disorders of eye movement and alignment. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 623.

Repka MX. Amblyopia: basics, questions, and practical management. In: Lambert SR, Lyons CJ, eds. Taylor & Hoyt's Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 73.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
  • Condition: Congenital Myogenic Ptosis
  • Journal: Medical archives (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Treatment Used: Transconjunctival Levator Plication
  • Number of Patients: 12
  • Published —
In this study, researchers evaluated the outcomes of early correction of congenital ptosis using transconjunctival levator plication.
Latest Advance
  • Condition: Cataract Patients With or Without Pre-Existing Ocular Pathologies
  • Journal: BMC ophthalmology
  • Treatment Used: Hydrophilic Acrylic Intraocular Lens
  • Number of Patients: 282
  • Published —
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the visual, refractive, and safety outcomes of a monofocal lens 1 year after implantation in cataract patients with or without pre-existing ocular pathologies.
Latest Advance
  • Condition: Anisometropic Amblyopia
  • Journal: Investigative ophthalmology & visual science
  • Treatment Used: Optical Treatment
  • Number of Patients: 31
  • Published —
This study characterized the functional loss in magnocellular and parvocellular visual pathways in anisometropic amblyopia (chronic blur on retina) at baseline and investigated the effect of optical treatment on the 2 visual pathways.
Latest Advance
  • Condition: High Corneal Astigmatism
  • Journal: Eye (London, England)
  • Treatment Used: Toric Intraocular Lens Implantation (TIOL)
  • Number of Patients: 47
  • Published —
This study determined the effectiveness of toric intraocular lens (TIOL) implantation in cataract surgery patients with high levels of pre-operative corneal astigmatism (blurred vision).

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Behavioral
  • Participants: 150
  • Start Date: February 21, 2020
Oculomotor Disorders: Experimental and Clinical Study
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Other
  • Participants: 160
  • Start Date: January 13, 2020
A Patch Free Treatment for Young Children With Amblyopia
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Other
  • Participants: 23
  • Start Date: October 1, 2019
Treating Amblyopia in Adults With Interactive Video Games
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Other
  • Participants: 80
  • Start Date: September 17, 2019
Monocular Action Video Game Versus Passive Occlusion In The Treatment Of Amblyopia: A Randomized Controlled Trial