Amblyopia (Pediatric)

About Amblyopia

Although amblyopia is often referred to as “lazy eye,” the effects of it are nothing to take lightly or casually. If not properly treated in a timely and expert approach, amblyopia can cause the weakened eyesight to become a permanent vision problem. That is why eye examinations, beginning at an early age, are so critical to your child’s eye health and overall development.


There are many conditions that can cause one eye or both eyes to become weaker than they should be. Anything that might create blurry vision or misalignment of the eyes due to eye muscle problems can result in the eye to become “lazy,” but there are other causes as well.

Common causes of amblyopia include:


Amblyopia can only be diagnosed by a thorough examination of your child’s vision. Columbia pediatric ophthalmologists are expertly trained to determine if there is a loss of vision in either one or both eyes. If strabismus is also diagnosed, or if there is a loss of visual sharpness then amblyopia is likely to happen as well.

Conditions We Treat

There are three main types of amblyopia that we treat including:

  • Strabismus amblyopia—an eye muscle problem can be a cause of lazy eye. It prevents the eyes from working together in a binocular fashion.
  • Refractive amblyopia—the vision in one eye or both eyes not developing well or deteriorating caused by a significant difference in vision sharpness in each eye or poor focus in both eyes. This is caused by farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism especially if there is anisometropia (a significant difference in need for glasses in the two eyes).
  • Deprivation amblyopia—the most serious of amblyopia in which clear and sharp vision is obstructed due to a problem such as a cataract. This can then cause a loss of vision strength.

Treatments We Offer 

Columbia pediatric ophthalmologists have a variety of amblyopia treatment options available. Treatments may include patching, glasses, and topical medication. Surgery may be necessary for certain cases such as cataract or ptosis (drooping eyelids). The main goal of treatment used for lazy eyes is making sure that the vision in the weaker eye becomes stronger. Our Columbia doctors can do this in a few main ways:

  • Eyeglasses–if the amblyopia is caused by a refractive vision problem, corrective lenses can help strengthen vision.
  • Patching–An opaque, adhesive patch is worn over the stronger eye to force the child to use the weaker eye with amblyopia.
  • Medication–Atropine eye drops are used in the stronger eye to cause temporary blurry vision so the weaker eye must work harder and get stronger.
  • Surgery–if the underlying cause of the “lazy” eye problem is a result of strabismus, eye muscle surgery may be performed to fix the eye muscle condition, which will then help strengthen the weakened vision. 

Why Choose Columbia?

Early detection and treatment are so important to prevent vision loss and to regain vision strength. The expertise of the specialists at Columbia ensures the best possible care in a state-of-the-art facility, along with the resources of a top children’s hospital and eye institute to provide comprehensive and compassionate eye care.