Boulder Eye Surgeons
Donald J. Keller, MD & Brian E. Nichols, MD PhD

Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is the most common cause for preventable vision loss in children and young adults. It is present when an eye has poor vision without apparent physical defect or disease. Research has shown that from 3 to 5 percent of the population suffers from amblyopia, which will remain permanent if not treated prior to visual maturity, usually around the age of 9.

Typical treatment involves penalization of the better-seeing eye with an eye patch or dilating eye drops. The primary goal of amblyopia treatment is to stimulate the weaker eye to enable development of normal visual and neural pathways. Studies have shown that with adequate treatment, 97% of children should achieve normal or near normal vision. However, the treatment of amblyopia can be difficult and taxing for a family and cooperation from the child is often poor. Families can sometimes abandon the treatment because it is too difficult or the goals are confusing and poorly understood.

To maximize success, it is critically important for the family to understand the purpose and goals of treatment of amblyopia. Please do not hesitate to ask Dr. Nichols if you have any confusion or questions regarding amblyopia. In addition, Children’s Eye Foundation has excellent resources regarding amblyopia and its treatment.