Lazy Eye

Amblyopia or Lazy Eye as it’s commonly called is an eye condition that usually develops in children. 

Lazy eye is most commonly caused by an imbalance in the muscles that position the eyes.  The imbalance can cause the eyes to turn into the or away from the nose.  This action prevents the eyes from working together and may be the reason for a difference in vision.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some signs and symptoms of lazy eye are: 

  • An eye that wanders inward or outward
  • Eyes that appear to not work together
  • Poor depth perception
  • Squinting or shutting an eye
  • Head tilting
  • Abnormal results of vision screening tests

The Mayo Clinic also states that, “It’s important to start treatment for lazy eye as soon as possible in childhood, when the complicated connections between the eye and the brain are forming. The best results occur when treatment starts before age 7, although half of children between the ages of 7 and 17 respond to treatment”

To diagnose lazy eye, a standard eye exam such as a 20/20 eye chart screening is not a satisfactory. Diagnosis often times is made in younger children by using eye drops to dilate their eyes, using a lighted magnifying device to detect cataracts and assess their ability to stare at a moving object and follow it.  In older children, tests using symbols or letters can access their vision.

Treatment options depend on the cause of lazy eye and on how much the condition is affecting your child’s vision. Your doctor might recommend:

  • Corrective eyewear Glasses or contact lenses can correct problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism that result in lazy eye.
  • Eye patches -To stimulate and strengthen the weaker eye.
  • Bangerter filter -This special filter that is placed on the eyeglass lens of the stronger eye. Similar to the eye patch, the filter works to stimulate and strengthen the weaker eye.
  • Eye drops – A prescription eye drop the temporarily blurs vision in the stronger eye.  This encourages the use of the weaker eye and offers an alternative to the patch.
  • Surgery – If the lazy eyes continue to cross or wander apart with the appropriate glasses, your doctor might recommend surgical repair to straighten the eyes, in addition to other lazy eye treatments.

Activities such as drawing, doing puzzles or computer games can also show positive results, however the effectiveness has not been proven.

The proper treatments for lazy eye, usually improves vision within weeks to months. Treatment can last from six months to two years.

It is recommended that the condition be monitored for recurrence of lazy eye. If lazy eye recurs, treatment will need to start again.

If you would like to have your eyes, or the eyes of a loved one, examined, please call the Ambulatory Care Center at Flushing Hospital Medical Center at 718-670-5486 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.