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Calgary Optometry Centre
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Calgary Optometry Centre
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A Brief Overview of Amblyopia

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Amblyopia – referred often to as “lazy eye” – is a vision development disorder which causes reduced vision in one eye.

What is Amblyopia?

Who is likely to develop amblyopia?

amblyopia is a condition which starts during infancy and early childhood.  The onset of amblyopia occurs when the brain and affected eye are not working together properly.  

There are three major causes for amblyopia:

Strabismic amblyopia

Strabismus is the most common cause of amblyopia.  In an attempt to overcome the double vision caused by Strabismus, the brain begins to favour input from the “good eye” and ignores the visual input from the affected eye, or “lazy eye”.

Refractive amblyopia

This occurs when two eyes have unequal visual acuity. This means there may be a large difference in the degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism between the two eyes.

The brain begins to rely more on the less-affected eye for vision and tunes out input from the uncorrected eye, subsequently leading to disuse of that eye, therefore turning it into a “lazy eye”.

Deprivation amblyopia

This is the least common type of amblyopia and typically the most severe.  This type of amblyopia occurs due to the visual axis in an eye being obstructed by certain conditions, causing that eye to lack the stimulation to develop proper visual acuity.  

Conditions which cause Deprivation amblyopia include cataracts, vitreous hemorrhaging, corneal opacities and eyelid ptosis.  

What Are The Symptoms of amblyopia?

Due to the onset of the condition affecting only infants and young children, symptoms may be difficult to detect.  Certain behaviours by a child, which could indicate that he or she has symptoms of amblyopia, include:

  • Closing or covering one eye when looking at things
  • Excessive squinting or tilting of the head when focusing on an object
  • Poor depth perception
  • Headaches
  • Cross-eye or an outward wandering eye

What Are The Treatment Options For amblyopia?

Treatment for amblyopia involves forcing the brain to use the weaker eye and accustom the brain to rely on it equally with the other eye.

Glasses are prescribed in cases where there is unequal visual acuity in each eye and/or double vision.  Through the prescribed correction, the glasses cause both eyes to obtain clear and equally focused images to the brain, glasses with prism correction may also be prescribed to eliminate double vision.


Eye muscle surgery is an option in cases of strabismic amblyopia. The surgery involves the tightening or loosening of the eye muscles which may be causing the eye to wander. Though it is relatively invasive, it is considered safe and effective in correcting this type of amblyopia.

Atropine drops are an alternative for children who find difficulties using glasses or an eye patch.  The drops are used in the unaffected eye, causing temporary blurriness in that eye.  This forces the brain to recognize images seen in the normally weaker eye.   

Eye muscle surgery is an option when none of the aforementioned treatments are viable or ideal.  The surgery involves the tightening or loosing of the eye muscles which may be causing the eye to wander.  Though it is relatively more invasive than the other options, it is considered extremely safe and effective in correcting amblyopia.

Vision Therapy as another possible treatment for amblyopia. An individualized treatment program where specific visual tasks are assigned to obtain equally focused images to the brain from both eyes.

Still Have Questions About amblyopia?

If you are unsure about the symptoms or diagnosis of amblyopia in your child, please contact us to book a consultation – we are here to help!   Our doctors are able to provide the guidance you need to ensure that your child’s vision develops correctly.