Amblyopia is usually easily diagnosed with a complete examination of the eyes. Special tests are usually not needed.
First, any eye condition that is causing poor vision in the amblyopic eye (such as cataracts) needs to be corrected.
Children with a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism) will need glasses.
Next, a patch is placed on the normal eye. This forces the brain to recognize the image from the eye with amblyopia. Sometimes, drops are used to blur the vision of the normal eye instead of putting a patch on it.
Children whose vision will not fully recover, and those with only good eye due to any disorder should wear glasses with protective polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate glasses are shatter- and scratch-resistant.
Children who get treated before age 5 will usually recover almost completely normal vision, although they may continue to have problems with depth perception.
Delaying treatment can result in permanent vision problems. After age 10, only a partial recovery of vision can be expected.
Eye muscle problems that may require several surgeries, which can have complications
Permanent vision loss in the affected eye
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you suspect a vision problem in a young child.
Early recognition and treatment of the problem in children can help to prevent permanent visual loss. All children should have a complete eye examination at least once between ages 3 and 5.
Special techniques are needed to measure visual acuity in a child who is too young to speak. Most eye care professionals can perform these techniques.
Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer LS, Stass-Isern M. Disorders of eye movement and alignment. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF,eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 615.
Olitsky SE, Coats DK. Amblyopia and its management. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2009:chap 10.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.