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Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Amblyopia (also called lazy eye) is a type of poor vision that happens in just 1 eye, but it can also be in both eyes but on very rare occasions. It develops when there’s a breakdown in how the brain and the eye work together, and the brain can’t recognize the sight from 1 eye. Over time, the brain relies more and more on the other, stronger eye, while vision in the weaker eye gets worse.

It’s called “lazy eye” because the stronger eye works better. But people with amblyopia are not lazy due to the amblyopia because they can’t control the way their eyes work.

Amblyopia starts in childhood, and it’s the most common cause of vision loss in kids. Up to 3 out of 100 children have it. The good news is that early treatment works well and usually prevents long-term vision problems.

If we suspect an ocular condition or disease,
we will immediately schedule or perform
diagnostic tests to determine our next steps.

“Lazy eye” affects about four million people in the United States. It occurs when, for one of several reasons, one eye is used less than the other. If one eye is crossed or turns out, the individual sees double, so he or she learns to “shut off” or ignore that eye. If the two eyes are very different, one nearsighted and the other farsighted, the same thing can occur. After a while, vision in the unused eye is reduced.

For many years it was thought that amblyopia, or “lazy eye” – when one eye sees poorly and cannot be helped with corrective lenses – was a permanent condition unless it was detected and treated before the age of six. Many optometrists no longer accept this, believing that even adults can improve their sight - if not completely correct their lazy eye – through special therapy.

The American Optometric Association agrees that current research proves the old theory wrong. The success rate does drop off as one gets older, but the cut-off at age six is arbitrary. Age should not be a barrier, though the longer the condition has existed the more difficult it becomes to treat.
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Treatment varies depending on the extent of the condition, the patients’ age and the optometrist. Small children often have their stronger eye patched for several hours a day. This stimulates the use of the weak eye while they perform exercises such as coloring, cutting things out and tracing. Vision therapy – usually several hours a week, in the doctor’s office and at home – will often correct the underlying reason for the lazy eye. Very small children can improve in a month or two; older children may take several months to a year to respond.



With adults, treatment is basically the same, but it takes longer. Adults may not wear a patch at all if vision is very poor, or only for an hour or two at home while doing fine tasks such as coloring in the 0’s of a newspaper. Patients do exercises designed to improve focusing, tracking and spatial judgment.

Many times after treatment, 50 percent of the older children and adults see as well or almost as well with their lazy eye as with their normal eye, and four out of five of the rest at least show improvement.

Results are permanent when both the amblyopia and the underlying problem are corrected. When the latter can’t be treated, patients should continue the exercises on a less-frequent basis and visit their optometrist periodically so that the eye does not weaken again.
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4207 Glass Road, NE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402
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Cedar Rapids Eye Care 4207 Glass Rd. NE Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 Phone: (319) 366-4455 Fax: (319) 362-8461

Cedar Rapids Eye Center proudly serves Cedar Rapids, IA and the surrounding areas of Kenwood Park, Noelridge Park, Mound View, Marion, Hiawatha, Cedar Hills and Toddville.

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