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Amblyopia in Children

Here’s all you need to know about amblyopia in children and the treatment options for this condition.

Amblyopia in children is a condition that occurs due to irregular visual development early in their lives, which results in reduced or blurry vision in one eye. When this happens, the brain learns to favour the stronger/clearer seeing eye for sight, causing the weaker one’s vision to worsen over time. 

It’s often called “lazy eye” because the weaker eye does not fixate well, and frequently drifts outward or inward. Lazy eye in children typically develops from birth to age seven. It rarely manifests in both eyes and is one of the most common causes of impaired vision in children. 

Amblyopia in children can permanently affect their vision if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Effective options for lazy eye treatment for a child include corrective glasses, eye patching, eye drops and, in some cases, surgery. Explore the best options to manage your child’s amblyopia today.

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Amblyopia in Children - Frequently Asked Questions

Can a lazy eye be fixed in a child?

Yes, lazy eye in children is highly treatable. The treatment method will depend on the cause and severity of the condition. In most cases, proper care can improve vision within weeks to months. However, in some instances, it may take from six months to two years.

Following recovery, you must continue to monitor your child and schedule regular check-ups with a paediatric ophthalmologist for the lazy eye to detect any potential recurrence, which is a possibility in up to 25% of children with the condition.

What is the fastest way to fix a lazy eye?

Lazy eye treatment for a child typically depends on the reason for the condition and how much it’s affecting their vision. The most common treatment options include patching, corrective eyewear, eye drops and sometimes surgery. 

  • Corrective eyewear: Glasses or contacts to address conditions that cause lazy eyes, such as astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness.
  • Eye patches. Children can wear an eye patch over the stronger eye for a few hours daily to stimulate vision in the weaker eye and enhance its connection with the brain.
  • Eyedrops: Using atropine eye drops (Isopto Atropine) can temporarily blur near vision in the stronger eye, prompting the use of the weaker eye as an alternative to wearing a patch.

Surgery: If your child has cataracts or droopy eyelids causing deprivation amblyopia, surgery might be necessary. In cases where your child’s eyes keep crossing or drifting apart despite wearing appropriate glasses, the paediatric ophthalmologist for lazy eye may suggest surgical correction to align the eyes along with other treatments.

Will lazy eye correct itself?

No, amblyopia in children, also known as lazy eye, doesn’t resolve on its own, nor do they outgrow it. It’s a condition that impacts the development of visual acuity in one or both eyes. If left untreated, it can result in permanent vision impairment, potentially causing Low Vision or near blindness in the affected eye.

If you suspect your child has this condition, you must consult a paediatric ophthalmologist for lazy eye as soon as possible to determine the reason and start the right treatment. The earlier you begin, the better your child’s chances of a complete recovery will be.

How do I know if my child has a lazy eye?

Signs of lazy eye in toddlers and young children can be hard to spot. Many kids don’t show any obvious symptoms until they’ve had an exam by a paediatric ophthalmologist for lazy eye.

However, if they have amblyopia, you’ll probably notice changes in how your child interacts with objects and the space around them. Some common signs to look out for are:

  • Shutting one eye or squinting a lot.
  • Crossed eyes.
  • Droopy eyelids.
  • Bumping into objects, especially on one side of their body.
  • Favouring one side of their body over the other.
  • Frequently tilting their head to one side.
  • Eyes are not moving in the same direction when they’re trying to focus.
At what age can you fix a lazy eye?

Lazy eye treatment for a child should start as soon as possible, ideally before age five to seven. This is because, during this time, the brain is still forming connections with the eye and can be more receptive to treatment. 

However, if your child is between seven and 17 years of age, there is still a chance for a full recovery. About half of children in this age range have been shown to respond positively to lazy eye treatment.

What is the most common cause of amblyopia in children?

Amblyopia in children is usually caused by other vision issues or structural problems with their eyes, including:

  • Refractive errors: An issue with the eyes’ shape or focusing ability that results in blurry vision. Common refractive errors in children leading to amblyopia include nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
  • Strabismus (crossed eyes): Typically, eyes move in sync. However, if one of your child’s eyes moves without matching the other, their brain might begin favouring the one eye – usually the clearer seeing one  of them.
  • Structural eye issues: Any condition that affects your child’s eye function can cause blurry vision and lead to amblyopia. This includes droopy eyelids (ptosis), cataracts, and cornea problems.

Lazy eye risk factors: some factors make kids more likely to experience amblyopia, including biological family history, developmental delays, premature birth and low birth weight.

How do you treat amblyopia in children?

Lazy eye treatment for a child aims to strengthen vision in the amblyopic or weaker eye by encouraging the brain to focus on its images. This happens by using corrective glasses, eye drops, eye patches, surgery or a combination of these methods.

Glasses: Glasses are recommended in cases where amblyopia results from significant refractive errors and/or anisometropia (when one eye has different focus / correction value better visual clarity than the other).

Eye patches: To treat amblyopia, kids often wear an eye patch over the unaffected eye for two to six hours a day while awake.

Atropine drops: Like a patch for the unaffected eye, atropine drops temporarily blur near vision in the stronger eye. This compels the brain to recognize images seen by the weaker one. Atropine is effective for mild to moderate amblyopia but less so for severe cases.Surgery: If strabismus, cataracts or droopy eyelid is causing amblyopia and treatment with glasses, drops or patches doesn’t improve the alignment of the eyes, lazy eye surgery for a child might be recommended.

Can a child outgrow amblyopia?

No, children don’t outgrow amblyopia. It’s a serious disorder where one or both eyes have reduced vision due to a lack of coordination between the eye and the brain. If left untreated, it can trigger permanent vision impairment or even blindness in severe cases. 

As such, if you suspect your child has amblyopia, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with a paediatric ophthalmologist for lazy eye as soon as possible. Early detection and proper care can greatly improve your child’s chances of developing and maintaining normal vision.

What is the age limit for lazy eye surgery?

Lazy eye surgery for a child is better performed in the earlier years of their life, typically before they reach the ages of five to seven. This is because the connection between the brain and the affected eye is still developing during this time, making treatment all the more effective. 

However, according to recent research from the National Eye Institute (NEI), lazy eye can still be successfully treated up to the age of 17. The best way to determine if your child is a viable candidate for surgery is to consult a paediatric ophthalmologist for lazy eye treatment. 

They can assess your child’s visual acuity and recommend the best course of treatment for their individual case. Get started by booking a consultation with us.