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Amblyopia treatment

What is Amblyopia?

“Early detection and treatment is paramount as a child will not outgrow crossed eyes. Every child should have a visual acuity test and a thorough eye examination before the age of five.”

Amblyopia is a condition of reduced or dim vision in an eye which appears to be normal. 
It is sometimes called ‘lazy eye’. This is a serious eye defect which often goes undetected in childhood until it is too late to correct it.

It is estimated that Amblyopia affects 2-4% of the population. It is a potential cause of unemployment for healthy young adults who find their vision is not adequate for certain occupations. When it is caused by a squint it can be an embarrassing disfigurement.

Symptoms and causes of Amblyopia:

Squint (Strabismus)
This is the most frequent cause and occurs when the eyes are not parallel when focusing on an object. Each eye looks in a different direction and the child sees either two objects or a blurry image (double vision). Some squints are not obvious to the observer and can only be diagnosed by special tests.

Poor vision in one eye (Refractive error)
A high proportion of children with amblyopia have eyes which look and appear to function normally, but they are using one eye only.
If the vision in one eye is much stronger than the other, the child habitually uses the good eye and suppresses the image from the weaker eye.

Organic Disease
This is not true amblyopia, but often appears to be before a thorough examination is carried out. It is important to be sure that any child with defective vision or apparent squint is medically examined.

Parents should look out for characteristics that could indicate a vision problem.
They should consider it a warning if their child:

  • Rubs their eyes excessively.
  • Closes or covers one eye when looking at objects.
  • Tilts their head forward when focusing their eyes, or has difficulty reading or in other efforts requiring close use of the eyes
  • Blinks more than usual or is irritable when doing close work, often holding books very close to eyes.
  • Trips over small objects often.
  • Cannot participate in games requiring distance vision.
  • Has an involuntary turning in or out of one or both eyes at any age. This is an immediate problem that urgently requires attention.

Detection and diagnosis

Children are unaware of defective vision, so routine examinations are important from an early age. The School Medical Service includes vision testing in its medical screening of school children.

Any child with defective vision is referred to their GP for further investigation and treatment. Every child’s eyes should be checked before reaching school age.


There are three main methods of treatment for amblyopia. By far the most widely used is ‘patching’ or covering the good eye to force the patient to use the amblyopic eye. Patching alone is often successful with children. In some instances, eyeglasses are prescribed to correct refractive errors. In others, muscle surgery may be necessary to correct the out-of-line amblyopic eye.

Orthoptics therapy re-trains eyes to work together as a team by means of exercises.
Some authorities believe there is no age limit for orthoptics treatment, but the therapy is
most successful when the patient is treated at the earliest age possible, and preferably well before the age of seven.

A decision to have treatment

As you consider treatment, make sure that you understand the risks, benefits and limitations associated with the treatment. If you have any questions, ask your ophthalmologist.

Want more information?

Some information within this website has been supplied by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Opthamologists (RANZCO). If you would like more information visit www.RANZCO.edu

CALL US ON 06 844 4617


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