Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that didn't develop normal sight during early childhood. It is sometimes called "lazy eye."

One cause of amblyopia is strabismus (pronounced struh-biz-muhs). Strabismus is a condition where one eye turns inward or outward.  The eyes cannot clearly focus on the same image, so the brain ignores the image from the turned eye.  Over time, the vision in this eye becomes worse. 

Another cause of amblyopia is when one eye has much better vision than the other eye.  The brain will get a blurry image from one eye and a clear image from the other eye.  The images sent from the blurred eye are ignored by the brain and the vision in this eye becomes worse over time. 

If not properly treated, amblyopia can cause:

  • Permanent vision loss in the eye with amblyopia
  • Loss of depth perception (seeing in three dimensions)

Patching is a common treatment for amblyopia. A patch is placed over the strong eye which forces the child to use the weaker eye. As a result, the weak eye gets stronger.  Your child must wear the patch every day.

Ways to Help Your Child Pass the Time

  • Watching TV or a favorite movie
  • Coloring, cutting paper, making crafts
  • Playing video games

Wearing the Patch While Sleeping
Your child should not wear the patch while sleeping. Patching is only done while your child is awake.

Red Mark or Rash on Face From the Patch
Put a small layer of Milk of Magnesia on the rash and let it dry. Then apply the patch on top of the dried Milk of Magnesia.

What If the Eye Starts to Turn In or Out?
Do not stop patching until your next appointment, even if you see a change in the other eye.  Do not use pirate patches.

Glasses and the Patch
If your child is wearing glasses, he/she should keep wearing the glasses and put the patch on the eye, not on the glasses.

If your child has problems with patching, there are alternative treatments, including eye drops.  Talk with your child’s eye doctor for more information.


Last Updated 09/2014