Amblyopia, commonly called lazy eye, occurs when one eye develops differently than the other eye does, causing one eye to be weaker than the other. Sometimes a difference in focusing ability causes one eye to be used more often. Other times, the eyes are misaligned, causing one eye to “shut off” to avoid double vision. Regardless of the cause, the result is a weakened, or amblyopic, eye.
It’s hard to spot amblyopia. Sometimes a child will noticeably favor one eye over the other. Another possible symptom is the child frequently bumping into things on one side. The best way to tell if your child has lazy eye is through a complete exam at about six months and three years. Early diagnosis can prevent amblyopia from leading to more serious problems, such as loss of the ability to see three dimensions or functional blindness in the amblyopic eye.
Most of the time amblyopia cannot be entirely corrected. The amblyopic eye will always be a bit weaker than the other. However, with treatment, vision in the amblyopic eye can be improved to some extent. Treatment involves encouraging the weak eye to develop. This is done using eye patches, vision therapy, glasses, or a combination of the three. The strong eye may be patched to encourage the weak eye to develop. Vision therapy can help to correct improper use of the eyes. If a focusing error is at the root of the problem, then glasses may reduce the error. Most of the time the amblyopic eye will always require glasses.
National Eye Institute Amblyopia Resource Guide http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/amblyopia/index.asp