Amblyopia means that vision in one eye does not develop fully during early childhood. Usually, amblyopia is a correctable problem if it is treated early. Late treatment can mean that the sight problem remains permanent. A squint is one of the most common causes of amblyopia. Treatment involves making the amblyopic (lazy) eye work harder to see. This is usually done by blocking the vision in the good eye with a patch or making the eyesight in the good eye blurry by using atropine eye drops.
What is amblyopia?
Amblyopia is a condition where the vision in an eye is poor because of lack of use of the eye in early childhood. In most cases, only one eye is affected, but it sometimes affects both eyes. Amblyopia is often called a lazy eye. In some cases of amblyopia caused by anisometropia (see below), the problem can sometimes be corrected by glasses. In most cases, however, glasses do not help.
Understanding the development of vision
Newborn babies can see. However, as they grow, the visual pathways continue to develop from the eye to the brain, and within the brain. The brain learns how to interpret the vision signals that come from an eye. This visual development continues until about age 7-8 years. After this time, the visual pathways and the parts of the brain involved with vision are fully formed and cannot change.
If, for any reason, a young child cannot use one or both eyes normally, then vision is not learnt properly. This results in poor sight (poor visual acuity) called amblyopia. The amblyopia develops in addition to whatever else is affecting the eye. In effect, amblyopia is a developmental problem of the brain rather than a problem within the eye itself. Even if the other eye problem is treated, the visual impairment from amblyopia usually remains permanent unless it is treated before the age of about seven years.