Does a Lazy Eye Affect Vision?

Reviewed on 1/18/2022

A child with lazy eye (one eye turned inward)
Lazy eye can cause poor vision in one eye and for the vision in the weaker eye to worsen if it is left untreated. Lazy eye symptoms may include double vision, problems with depth perception, appearing to struggle to see clearly, squinting, shutting one eye, and tilting the head to see.

Lazy eye (amblyopia) is a condition that starts in childhood in which the brain is unable to properly register the sight from one eye due to a problem in how the brain and the eye work together

Lazy eye can affect a person’s vision, causing poor vision in one eye. The brain relies more on the stronger eye, causing vision in the weaker eye to worsen. 

Symptoms of lazy eye include: 

  • Double vision
  • Problems with depth perception
  • Appearing to struggle to see clearly
    • Squinting
    • Shutting one eye
    • Tilting the head

These issues can be subtle and parents or caregivers may not notice them. Lazy eye is frequently diagnosed through routine vision screening during a doctor's check-up or at school. 

What Causes Lazy Eye?

Causes of lazy eye include: 

Risk factors for developing lazy eye include:

  • A family history of lazy eye, childhood cataracts, or other eye conditions
  • Being smaller than average at birth
  • Premature birth
  • Developmental disabilities

What Is the Treatment for Lazy Eye?

Early treatment to fix lazy eye and prevent long-term vision problems includes: 

  • Training the weaker eye by making it work harder so it can get stronger
    • An eye patch worn over the stronger eye so that eye can't see
    • Eye drops to put in the stronger eye to blur vision in that eye
  • Glasses or contact lenses 
    • For nearsightedness
    • For farsightedness
    • For astigmatism
  • Surgery 
    • To treat cataracts
    • To fix droopy eyelids
    • To strengthen muscles if due to crossed eyes

Vision may begin to improve within a few weeks but it tends to take months for the best results. Children may need to continue to use the treatments on occasion to prevent the lazy eye from returning. 

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Reviewed on 1/18/2022
Image Source: iStock Images