This can happen when the eye is otherwise entirely normal, or where vision is reduced disproportionally to the level of structural abnormality. It occurs in approximately 1-5% of the population and is the most common cause of visual problems in children. There are a number of different causes of amblyopia including strabismus in which a child develops a turn in the eye, such that the eyes are misaligned. The brain may switch off the squinting eye and thus vision deteriorates.
Other causes of amblyopia include long-sightedness (common in children), short-sightedness and astigmatism. In addition, childhood cataracts can cause reduced vision in one or both eyes and may lead to poor perception of depth.
Amblyopia can be screened for in some schools, health centres and clinics by an orthoptist. If diagnosed before the age of 7 years, it can often be treated by placing a patch onto the better-seeing eye in order to improve vision in the lazy eye.
When patching is not tolerated, drops can be instilled into the good eye to blur vision, therefore enhancing the vision of the weaker eye. In a similar way, lenses can be used to blur the non-amblyopic eye.
If untreated, amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss. Regular follow-up is required with our Orthoptist whilst treatment is under-way.