Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Amblyopia (“Lazy Eye”) in Your Child


Am Fam Physician. 2007 Feb 1;75(3):368.

  See related article on amblyopia.

What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia (AM-blee-OH-pee-ah), also called “lazy eye,” is the loss of sight in one or both eyes. For children and young adults it is the most common cause of vision loss in one eye.

What causes amblyopia?

Amblyopia can happen if your child has one eye that moves to the side or one eye that sees less well (or is weaker) than the other. It also can be caused by a growth in front of one or both eyes that stops your child from seeing.

How can I tell if my child has amblyopia?

If you think your child has a problem with his or her eyes, tell your doctor right away. Starting treatment early can help stop your child from losing his or her sight. You should tell your doctor if your child:

  • Holds things close to his or her face to see them

  • Squints or tilts his or her head to see things

  • Has an eye that crosses or moves from one side to the other (drifts)

  • Is unable to watch you as you walk across a room

How can my doctor tell if my child has amblyopia?

If your child can't see a close object or has trouble seeing the eye chart, your doctor may send your child to an eye doctor for testing.

How is amblyopia treated?

Amblyopia is treated by wearing a patch over the good eye for a while or using eye drops in the good eye each day. The patch and drops force your child to use the weak eye to see. Some children need surgery. The eye doctor will help you decide what is best for your child. It is important to see the eye doctor regularly to check on your child's vision, even after treatment.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor.

Web site:

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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