Lazy eye patch treatment

If refractive amblyopia is a problem, eyeglasses may be prescribed first to correct the focusing errors. If glasses alone do not improve a child's vision, then patching is needed — usually for weeks to months. Covering the child's stronger eye with a patch forces the child to use their weak eye. Another way to accomplish this technique is to blur the vision in the strong eye with special eyedrops or a pair of glasses with a blurry lens over the stronger eye.

Even after vision has been restored in the weaker eye, it may be necessary to continue patching the lazy eye part-time for a few more years to maintain the improvement.

PatchingAmblyopia is usually treated before surgery to correct misaligned or crossed eyes, and patching or blurring with eyedrops is often continued after surgery as well.

If your ophthalmologist finds a cataract or other problem in the eye that is causing the visual problem, surgery may be required to correct the problem that is causing amblyopia.

Amblyopia usually cannot be cured by treating the cause alone. The weaker eye must be made stronger in order to see normally. Prescribing eyeglasses or performing surgery can correct the cause of amblyopia, but your ophthalmologist must also treat the amblyopia itself.

Why treat amblyopia?
If amblyopia is not treated, several problems may occur:

  • The amblyopic eye may develop a serious and permanent visual defect.
  • Depth perception (seeing in three dimensions) may be lost, because good vision in both eyes is needed.
  • If the stronger eye becomes diseased or injured, a lifetime of poor vision may result.

People who have good vision in only one eye may find they are limited in the kinds of jobs they can perform. Your ophthalmologist can teach you how amblyopia can be treated, and can help you and your child successfully carry out this treatment.

Children do not like to have their strong eye patched or blurred. As a parent, however, you should help your child to do what is best for him or her. Your interest, involvement and persistence is the key to ensuring your child's amblyopia treatment succeeds.

Loss of vision is preventable
Success in the treatment of amblyopia also depends upon:

  • How severe the amblyopia is; and
  • How old the child is when treatment is begun.

If the problem is found and treated early, vision can improve for most children. Amblyopia caused by strabismus or unequal refractive errors may be treated successfully during the first nine years of age, and usually won't occur again.

If amblyopia is not detected until after early childhood, treatment may not be successful. Amblyopia caused by cloudiness of the eye tissue needs to be found and treated extremely early — within the first few months of life —  in order to be treated successfully.

If you have questions or would like more information, talk with an ophthalmologist.

Find an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) in your area.

Additional resources for information about amblyopia (lazy eye):
American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Pattern: Amblyopia (September 2007)

American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Pattern: Pediatric Eye Evaluations (September 2007)

American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Pattern: Esotropia and Exotropia (September 2007)

Written by
Reviewed by Dr. Denise Satterfield on Sept. 1, 2013

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