Lazy eye – or amblyopia – may seem at first glance like an inconvenience or an aesthetic problem, but it has real consequences for children’s success in school.

What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia has three types based on different underlying causes:

  1. Strabismic amblyopia. Strabismus, or eye misalignment, can manifest as crossed eyes, wall eyes or vertical misalignment. When the eyes do not work together or are poorly aligned, the brain begins to ignore the input from one eye. This eye becomes the lazy eye.
  2. Refractive amblyopia. Sometimes alignment is fine, but the eyes have different refractive errors, i.e. one eye is extremely farsighted or nearsighted and the other eye has 20/20 vision. In this case, the brain relies on the better eye and tunes out the blurry images being produced from the eye with the refractive error.
  3. Deprivation amblyopia. A rare occurrence when something like a cataract blocks light from entering and being focused in a baby’s eye.

Amblyopia can be diagnosed by our Pediatric Ophthalmologist in Livingston at Pediatric Eye Associates.

Why does it affect school?

Amblyopia may slow reading speed. A recent study* looked at fixation instability and saccades (small eye movements) to investigate the effect on reading speed in children with amblyopia,  Children were fitted with a device called a ReadAlyzer which tracked their eye movements while they read a text.

The researchers measured the reading rate, number of forward and corrective saccades per 100 words, as well as the time spent fixated on words. A quiz was then administered to measure whether children had understood the text; only those who received 80% or better were included in the final results.

And what were those results? Children who had amblyopia read more slowly and had to make more saccades (eye movements) than children who did not. What does it mean in practice? First, children who have untreated amblyopia might not be able and process as much material as quickly as those children who have been treated or those with no vision problems, If left untreated, amblyopia can make reading more time consuming and discourage children from doing it. Finally, it means that parents whose children have amblyopia should  consider requesting accommodation from their child’s teachers to give a bit more time on those reading tests until the treatment is complete.

Children’s Ophthalmologists in Livingston – Your solution

If your child is suspected to have amblyopia, contact our Pediatric Ophthalmologist in Livingston at Pediatric Eye Associates. At Pediatric Eye Associates, you can be sure your child’s eyes will be taken care of – so don’t hesitate to contact us today.

  • “Amblyopia children read more slowly than controls under natural, binocular reading conditions”  Krista,Kelly, PhD, Reed Jost, MS, Angie De La Cruz, BS, and Eileen Birch, PhD. JAAPOS 2015 Dec. 19(6): 515-520