Amblyopia 'Lazy Eye'

A child’s visual system develops during the first decade of life, but most significantly in the first few months and years. If the image in an eye is not properly focused during this time the child may fail to develop the neural pathways necessary for normal vision.

Common causes include a deviating eye (squint), drooping upper eyelid (ptosis) and differences in the size or shape of the two eyes (anisometropia). This latter condition is not visible to the naked eye but is detected by checking the child’s spectacle prescription.

Detecting amblyopia can be very difficult for the parents or caregivers as there may be no outward sign that anything is wrong. Your child’s vision may have been tested by the Vision and Hearing Testers, a Plunket Nurse or General Practitioner. If you or a health professional have concerns about your child’s vision it is advisable to have it checked by an eye specialist. Early detection of visual problems can significantly improve the chance of attaining normal vision.

Actions characteristic of a child with amblyopia may include the following:

  • Excessive rubbing of the eyes
  • Closing one eye when looking at an object
  • Tilting the head forwards or to the side when trying to focus
  • Difficulty in reading
  • Irritability when doing work requiring close focus
  • Holding books very close when trying to read
  • Tripping over small objects
  • Not taking part in games requiring long distance vision
  • Inward or outward deviation of one or both eyes