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Lazy Eye in Kids Explained

by eprompt

Lazy Eye in Kids Explained

Reviewed By Dr. Jodi Kuhn

Reading time: 3 minutes

Lazy eye, medically termed amblyopia, is a common condition affecting children where one eye doesn’t develop proper vision during early childhood, causing the child to rely more heavily on the other eye.  

It’s important for parents to be aware of this condition, as early detection and intervention can significantly improve the outcome for affected children. This condition can lead to poor vision in the affected eye if left untreated. Thankfully, with awareness and early intervention, outcomes can be very positive.

What Causes Lazy Eye in Kids?

Lazy eye develops when the nerve pathway from one eye to the brain does not develop as it should. This imbalance often arises from the affected eye receiving blurry or incorrect images, leading the brain to ignore inputs from this eye and favor the other, more reliable eye for vision. 

Several factors contribute to this condition, including:

  • Differences in the vision strength between the two eyes (anisometropia)
  • Misalignment of the eyes or strabismus
  • Blockage of an eye due to trauma, cataract, or other eye conditions
  • Different prescription for each eye (for instance, one eye is more nearsighted)
  • A genetic predisposition to eye conditions

Over time, if the brain continues to ignore the affected eye, the vision in that eye can deteriorate from lack of use, effectively reinforcing the condition.

How to Recognize the Symptoms of Lazy Eye

Here are some of the tell-tale signs to watch for:

  • Poor depth perception
  • Squinting, shutting an eye, or tilting head when looking at objects
  • Frequently bumping into objects or tripping over things
  • Difficulty with tasks that require hand-eye coordination, such as catching a ball
  • Poor performance in school, especially with reading and writing

Parents should include regular eye exams for their children during routine medical checkups to catch this issue early on. This will help detect any vision problems early on and seek timely intervention if necessary.

Treatments For Lazy Eye in Kids

Treatment effectiveness diminishes with age, so early intervention is critical. Here’s a simple guide on addressing amblyopia:

  1. Eye patches – Wearing an eye patch over the stronger eye can encourage the use of the weaker eye. This treatment option is most effective for children younger than eight years old.
  2. Eye drops or ointment – Atropine eye drops can blur the vision in the stronger eye, forcing the weaker one to work harder and develop properly.
  3. Vision therapy – This therapy involves exercises that help strengthen and improve the connection between the affected eye and the brain.
  4. Contact lenses or glasses – Prescription glasses correct blurry or distorted vision. They can also help balance the vision between both eyes.
  5. Surgery – In cases involving cataracts or droopy eyelids.  Surgery can help clear the blockage and improve vision in the affected eye.

How to Prevent Lazy Eye in Kids

Since early detection and treatment are so critical, prevention is always the best route. Parents can help prevent lazy eye in their children by:

  • Scheduling regular eye exams for their children, starting at six months of age.
  • Encouraging proper eye hygiene to avoid infections or injuries
  • Limiting screen time and encouraging outdoor activities
  • Being aware of any family history of eye conditions and discussing it with the child’s doctor

Youth Vision: Your Kid-Friendly Optometrist in Denver

Lazy eye is a common condition among children, but fortunately, it can be treated and even prevented with early intervention. At Youth Vision, our team of experienced optometrists specializes in pediatric eye care and can help detect and treat lazy eye in kids. Schedule an appointment for your child today to ensure their healthy eyesight. Call us at (303) 953-8801 to book an appointment at one of our four locations.

FAQs About Lazy Eye

Can a lazy eye be fixed in a child?

Yes, with early treatment, most children recover full or near-full visual acuity.

Is lazy eye a serious problem?

While not life-threatening, without treatment, it can lead to permanent vision loss.

When is it too late to treat a lazy eye?

It is never too late to treat a lazy eye, however treatments become less effective as the child gets older. Treatment should begin as soon as possible, ideally before the age of seven.

Does lazy eye go away on it’s own?

Amblyopia or lazy eye does not go away on its own. Treatment is necessary to correct vision.