Lazy Eye In Children: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Written by Sreoshi Sengupta • 

Parents are often worried about the growth and development of their children, especially in their budding years. Concerns about eyesight and proper vision is one of the most prominent ones on their minds. Children may not complain about vision issues, especially in case of lazy eye or amblyopia, which could hamper their vision quality.

Parents have to be attentive and careful about it and look for signs and symptoms in their children if they are suffering from a lazy eye. The earlier the condition is treated, the higher the chances of success. A good vision is possible after treatment.

What Is A Lazy Eye In A Child?

Lazy eye, or amblyopia as it is called, is an eye condition in children when vision fails to develop properly, usually in one eye, which can hinder the capacity of the child to see properly. If it is not treated soon, the condition will permanently damage the vision. When left untreated for long, the brain of the maturing child will start to ignore the images coming from the defective eye leading to permanent vision defect. (1)

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What Causes Lazy Eye In Children?

Amblyopia develops when one of the eyes of the child has more focus than the other. The eye starts to ignore the blurry images if left untreated for a long time and the condition of the lazy eye and its vision deteriorates. Some of the immediate factors that give rise to such a situation are: (2)

  1. Strabismus: When eyes are not aligned properly, which results in crossed or wandering eyes, can weaken the focus of one of the eyes. The brain suppresses the blurred images captured by the wandering eye and soon, the vision in that eye is almost lost.
  1. Astigmatism: Extreme far-sightedness or near-sightedness can result in the misalignment of focus by both eyes. The image of the focused eye is given prominence and the hyperopic or myopic eye’s blurry vision is ignored by the brain leading to lazy eye in the child.
  1. Droopy Eyelid: Apart from Strabismus and Astigmatism, issues such as anatomical and structural deformities can also result in a lazy eye. If the eyelid of one of the two eyes is a droopy eyelid, then it is sure to block vision in that eye, resulting in a lazy eye.
  1. Cataract: Formation of cataract on the retina of any of the two eyes of the child also causes vision blockage. The brain refuses to acknowledge the blurred and out of focus images of the cataract-eye leading to the condition of lazy eye.
  1. Anisometropia: The child may have different vision strengths in their eyes, which result in amblyopia in children.
  1. Genetics: Family history and genes play an important role in the development of amblyopia in kids. As amblyopia tends to run in families, children who share a family history can be at a risk of developing it.

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Lazy Eye Symptoms In Children:

In most cases, the child with lazy eye or amblyopia does not complain of having a poor vision as the brain adjusts in time to be accustomed to good vision in one eye and poor vision in another. Some of the prominent signs and symptoms one can notice in children with a lazy eye are:

  1. The child struggles to see properly
  2. Crossed eyes or wandering eyes
  3. Squinting of eyes
  4. Tilting head to see things
  5. Poor depth perception in babies
  6. Inability to recognize things 3D objects by baby

Lazy Eye Treatment For Kids:

To treat a lazy eye in children the procedure adopted is to force the brain to recognize the images produced by the lazy eye till the vision gets stronger and normalizes. The result is achieved through several means such as using glasses, eye patches, atropine eye drops and surgery.

1. Glasses To Treat Lazy Eye In Children

When the amblyopia or lazy eye occurs due to issues such as severe refractive errors or the problem of Anisometropia, glasses are prescribed to the children to correct the vision of the defective eye. The correct and clear vision is sent by the lazy eye with the help of glasses which forces the brain to accept the rectified images, thus treating the problem. Continued uses of glasses encourage the brain to utilize the images sent by both the eyes, use them together for a normal and healthy vision.

2. Eye Patch For Kids Lazy Eye

Kids with amblyopia are made to wear black eye patches over their properly functioning and unaffected eyes to correct the condition of the weak eye. Continued use of the eye patch will force the brain to use the lazy eye for vision and correct the condition. The child is required to wear the patch for more than two to three hours in a day for a period of months to years, depending on the severity of the condition.

Making your child wear an eye patch can be a challenging task. But once the child gets used to the patch it will not be a cumbersome task to wear it. In the initial days, you can distract your kid when he or she is wearing the eye patch by going to the park or engaging him or her in some activity such as playing a toy.

3. Atropine Drops To Treat Lazy Eye In Children

In case the child completely refuses to cooperate in wearing the eye patch for the necessary time period, the parents can use atropine eye as an alternative. The atropine drops blur the vision of the strong eye temporarily which results in the use of the images by the brain that is taken by the lazy eye. In time with the continued use of the drops, the child will be able to get a normal vision using both eyes.

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4. Lazy Eye Surgery In Children

If the lazy eye or amblyopia is caused by strabismus and treatment options such as eye patches, glasses, and atropine drops failed to improve the condition, the child may have to go for surgery to treat the condition. Surgery of the eye muscles, or to correct anatomical abnormalities like a droopy eyelid or even cataract requires surgery that will treat lazy eye in the child.

5. Lazy Eye Exercises For Kids

To treat the condition faster you can combine exercises along with eye patches and eye drops. Parents should encourage their children to do so as it helps in the recovery of the weak eye and increases vision. Some of the prominent eye exercises include color book painting, video games, maze and puzzles, etc, that can help the child in gaining vision in the lazy eye. To know the specific exercises that can be effective in treating the condition, consult your child’s eye specialist as soon as you can for effective treatment. (3)

A few exercises would be:


Cover the stronger eye with the palm of your hand and try to focus on objects around and describe them. Do this exercise every day for a period of six months to a year to see considerable improvement in the vision with the lazy eye.

Adjusting Focus

To enhance focus in the lazy eye, cover the strong eye with the palm of a hand and use the other hand’s index finger and bring it near the eye first, and then slowly take it away. Concentrate on the movement of the finger, coming near and going far, for a while. Take a break of five minutes and then do it again. Repeat the exercises thrice daily for improved results.

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is a kind of physical therapy to increase the efficiency of the eyes as well as the brain. It is a highly effective treatment when patients are not willing to opt for surgery for corrective measures. Visual problems such as lazy eye (amblyopia) or crossed or wandering eyes, squinted vision, and weak eye muscle issues can be treated using this therapy.

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Lazy Eye In Children: What Parents Should Know?

  1. It is important to treat lazy eye in kids as early as possible before it becomes a permanent vision problem.
  1. Nowadays, opaque lenses are also available which can be worn by the children instead of eye patches that can help in the treating of the condition without embarrassing or discomforting for the child.
  1. Children as young as three years old can also be diagnosed for lazy eye with the help of the latest scientific tools and test measure available in the medical health industry.
  1. Attention should be given by the teachers in schools also to notice if the child is having difficulty in looking at the blackboard or reading. And parents need to talk to their teachers about the issue if there is any problem in the child’s eyesight, at the earliest.
  1. If treatment options such as eye patches, glasses and atropine drops are not working, parents can go for surgery also to correct the vision in the lazy eye at the earliest. (4)

Frequently Asked Questions About Lazy Eye In Children:

  • What is amblyopia in children?

When one of the two eyes have a weak focus and produce blurry images, the brain refuses to acknowledge those images, concentrating only in the stronger eye, thus, hampering the overall vision of the child.

  • What is bilateral refractive amblyopia?

When a large amount of refractive error takes place between the child’s eyes, leading to unfocused vision in one eye, it is called as bilateral refractive amblyopia. Wearing glasses may help in the improvement of the vision.

  • How is lazy eye corrected in children?

Lazy eye in children can be corrected with glasses, eye patches or atropine drops. The trick is to force the brain to adjust to the images taken by the weak eye, and in time, vision improves as the focus is clear. Surgery is also adopted to treat the condition in case of anatomical issues such droopy eyelid or other problems like cataract in the eye.

  • Does the child get a lazy eye when tired?

Stressful situations and excessive fatigue can lead to lazy eye or intermittent exotropia in a child that is temporary. Symptoms are sudden occurrences of crossed or wandering eyes in stressed situations or when the child is tired from work or play.

Hope you found the article informative and interesting related to the topic of lazy eye in children. If you have any doubts on the issue, feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us.

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