Lazy eye: When to treat

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” causes the eye to cross or drift and can also affect one’s vision. How do you know if your child should see an ophthalmologist? Dr. Shiva Bohn, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Le Bonheur, answers questions about amblyopia and ways to treat it in a child.

What is amblyopia?
Amblyopia is a decrease in a child's vision that can happen even when there is no problem with the structure of the eye. It is commonly known as “lazy eye” and it can have an effect in one or both eyes to send a blurry image to the brain. The brain learns to see only blurry vision. There’s no genetic diagnosis linked to amblyopia and the condition is equally common in girls and boys.

What are treatments used for amblyopia? When should a parent take his or her child to see a doctor about it?
All cases of amblyopia are to be treated by a pediatric ophthalmologist. Parents should seek a doctor's visit if their child's eye crosses, drifts out, or if the child fails a vision screen at school or the pediatrician’s office, or if the child has eye/vision complaints. Treatment can include patching or treating the lazy eye with ophthalmic drops.

What’s the common age for a child to get amblyopia?
Amblyopia can become present as early as infancy and generally can be successfully treated until one’s teenage years, but it is best to treat it as early as possible before it worsens.

For more information about amblyopia and how to treat it effectively, visit AAPOS.org.

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