What is Amblyopia?

Published on
February 23, 2022

Amblyopia is a condition commonly referred to as a “lazy eye”. It is a result of a lack of coordination between the eyes. When the brain stops processing fully the inputs from both eyes, it then begins to favor the stronger eye which leads to the weaker eye being left unused, hence the term “lazy eye”. In more advanced cases the weaker eye will wander inward or outward.  When a patient has amblyopia in one or both eyes, they may not see as well as they expected or have symptoms such as:

  • Squinting or tilting the head when reading
  • Eyes moving in different directions when focusing 
  • Reduced depth perception (3D vision)
  • Weaker peripheral vision
  • Misalignment of the eyes

Lazy eye is thought to affect over 3% of children and is the leading cause of decreased vision in children. 

What are the causes of amblyopia?

Following are the few causes of amblyopia:

  • A juvenile cataract, a corneal anomaly, droopy eye lid, or anything else that impairs your vision in that eye very early on in life.
  • A high refractive condition such as being really nearsighted or really farsighted. Or having a difference between the two eyes. You might have one nearsighted eye and one farsighted eye, which could make your brain have to decide which one to focus on. And the eye that your brain doesn't choose can develop this condition amblyopia. 
  • Another cause of amblyopia is eye turn. When you have slight outward or inward deviations in your eye, your brain can learn to filter out the information. If it does that for a long enough period of time, it won't stimulate the pathway back to your brain. As a result, your brain doesn't develop the pathway from your eye to your brain. If it doesn't develop, then you're not going to see to your full capability.


How important is a timely eye exam?

In studies, it has been found that the eyes do not track well, the eyes do not perceive contrast well. A real deficit can be seen in the amblyopic eye compared to the normal eye. Thus, early childhood exams are important to determine whether a problem has arisen that might not be detected. Most eye turns are really slight. They may not be visible unless special tests are conducted. At Amplify EyeCare Manhattan in New York City, Dr. Nathaniel Wernick recommends everyone have their newborn examined at six months, and then have an annual exam thereafter, to make sure their visual system is developing properly and that they don't have any conditions leading to amblyopia. The problem with amblyopia is that once it has set in, it is hard to remove. Many amblyopic patients never attain full vision or full function in their amblyopic eye if they do not receive treatment early. Time is crucial when treating amblyopia.

How can amblyopia be treated?

A good thing about vision therapy is that it can help amblyopic patients tremendously. There are two main goals when trying to work with a patient with amblyopia:

  • The first step is to make sure that the patient has the most appropriate prescription for the required optical correction. The patient is then avoided any refractive error, allowing for proper alignment.
  • Through various forms of vision therapy, the eyes are trained to work together properly so the brain can interpret the images from both eyes and form one clear image instead of suppressing one.


At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.

Cynthia Norton

Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.

Steve Fay

Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.

Mary K.

Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!

Peter G.

Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!

Kinkie F.

I have always found Dr Kavner's work, expertise and wisdom of the highest caliber. As one of the fathers of OT, occupational othomology, his depth and breadth of knowledge about the eyes' health and wellbeing of the patient is exemplary. Cannot say enough good things about him.

Allen B.
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