​Amblyopia (Lazy eye)

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a condition which develops during infancy or early childhood affecting a child’s vision in one eye. In rare cases, it may also affect both eyes. If left untreated, amblyopia can permanently impair vision in the affected eye as the brain gradually starts ‘ignoring’ any image from the affected eye, as it matures. This is the reason why early diagnosis and treatment of this disorder is important to ensure higher chances of recovery. 

No obvious or visible abnormality can be seen in the affected eye of a child suffering from amblyopia. Common causes of this disorder include:

  • ​​Misalignment of the eyes due to imbalance in the muscles responsible for eye positioning.

  • Significant differences in vision between the two eyes, with one eye being out of focus because it is more near sighted or farsighted than the other.

Children who have a family history of amblyopia or are born prematurely or with low birth weight are at a higher risk for developing amblyopia​.


As amblyopia is a condition which develops in infancy or childhood, it becomes difficult to identify symptoms of this condition as children may not be able to tell you about differences in vision between the two eyes. However, you must keep an eye out for some symptoms which are common in amblyopic children:​

  • Misalignment of the two eyes or crossed eyes.

  • Crying or fussing when you cover one eye, especially on covering one eye and not the other.

  • Inaccurate depth perception.

  • A wandering eye, inwards or outwards.

It is also recommended that all children should have a complete eye exam between the ages 3 to 5 years to be able to identify any problems with vision in the early stages.​

Since it can be hard to identify symptoms of amblyopia, it is necessary to have your child examined by an eye specialist working with the Eye and ENT Service Line of The Aga Khan University Hospital if you suspect the presence of the symptoms mentioned above. If you feel there are problems with vision in your infant or toddler, consult your child’s paediatrician, who may refer you to an eye specialist if need be, especially if there is a family history of this condition.​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Other than your child’s medical history focused on any eye disorders running in the family and signs of crossed eye or poor depth perception, a physical examination of the child’s vision will help the doctor identify any signs of amblyopia. The eye specialist will observe how well a child follows a moving object with one eye covered. The eye tests performed to evaluate your child will depend on how old he/ she is. For older children, pictures and alphabet identification can be used, while for toddlers and infants, tests will observe their eyes’ ability to follow a moving object. 

Other eye tests will also be conducted to rule out the presence of other disorders which could be affecting vision, such as glaucoma, cataract, inflammation, or tumour inside the eye. Tests with special lighted magnifying devices will be done for this diagnosis. 

At The Aga Khan University Hospital, ophthalmology clinics of the Eye and ENT Service Line are equipped with state-of-the-art devices and instruments to help diagnose amblyopia. You can be assured of receiving quality healthcare from our dedicated team of ophthalmologists for the diagnosis and treatment of your child’s eye disorder.

The most common treatment method for amblyopia involves training the brain to start using the affected eye. For this, the doctor will guide your child wear an eye patch over the stronger eye for three to six hours a day. Initially the child may not be able to see well, but gradually vision will improve in a few weeks, or even months. Sometimes eye drops that temporarily blur vision in the stronger eye may be prescribed as an alternative to patches. It is important to follow through on this treatment option diligently for it to yield positive results. 

If near or far sightedness is contributing to poor vision in the affected eye, some children will also be prescribed glasses to help with their vision, which is quite effective at resolving the problem in some cases.

In case another eye disorder, such as cataract, is affecting vision, the doctor will treat that first. 

If the above methods do not work and your child’s eyes wander apart severely, surgery may be recommended on the muscles of the eye. Your doctor will discuss the merits and complications of surgery in detail with you before the procedure. Make sure you clarify all concerns and ask relevant questions regarding all treatment option before consenting to any procedure​.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider. ​