What Is a Lazy Eye?


Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a condition that many people deal with in their lifetime. Typically, this condition manifests itself in early childhood, and is characterized by one eye that looks in a different direction than it should. This “wandering” eye is what gives the condition its name. We’d like to tell you a little more about what causes this condition and how it’s treated.


Lazy eye is typically caused by one of 3 issues:

  • Strabismus: This is the most common cause of lazy eye. An imbalance in the muscles that position the eyes can cause the eyes to cross or turn outward. This prevents the eyes from moving together as they should.
  • Deprivation: This occurs if there is an issue that obscures the vision of one eye, such as a cataract. The obscure eye can often become “lazy” due to disuse.
  • Refraction: This type of lazy eye is brought on by large differences in the vision of each eye, such as an astigmatism.


Depending on the cause of the lazy eye, there are several ways to treat the condition:

  • Strabismus: For a strabismic lazy eye, your optometrist will typically place a patch over the stronger eye. This forces the muscles around the lazy eye to become stronger, correcting the eye’s wandering.
  • Deprivation: If the lazy eye is caused by deprivation, surgery may be required to remove the cataract and clear the vision.
  • Refraction: A refractive lazy eye is typically easy to correct through the prescription of contact lenses or glasses.

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