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Amblyopia in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is decreased vision in one or both eyes. Amblyopia develops when your child's eye and brain do not work together correctly. This can cause trouble seeing. Amblyopia is often found during a routine vision test.

Eye Anatomy

What causes amblyopia?

  • Refractive error (one eye cannot focus as well as the other because of the shape)
  • Strabismus (one or both eyes wander in, out, up, or down)
  • Cataract (clouding of the lens of the eye)

What are the signs and symptoms of amblyopia?

  • Squinting, covering, or closing one eye
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Sitting close to screens, or the front of a room
  • Eye that wanders or turns in or out
  • Eyes that are not aligned, or do not move together
  • Poor vision, such as your child not being able to see objects waved in front of him or her
  • Seeing your child tilt his or her head to one side to see better

How is amblyopia in children treated?

  • An eye patch can help strengthen the weaker eye and improve your child's vision. The eye patch is worn over your child's stronger eye for 1 or more hours every day. He or she may need to do this for weeks or months.
    Eye Patch
  • Eyedrops may be put into your child's stronger eye to make his or her vision blurry. This will help your child's brain use the weaker eye. The weak eye may become stronger and your child's vision may improve.
  • Glasses or contact lenses may be recommended to correct a refractive error. This may help your child's vision improve.
  • Surgery may be needed to correct a muscle imbalance in your child's eye. The eye muscles on one or both sides may be cut and reattached. This helps position the eyes so they line up correctly.

When should I call my child's eye doctor?

  • Your child's vision suddenly gets worse.
  • Your child has trouble seeing.
  • You child has a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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