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Amblyopia and Strabismus in Children: Care Instructions

Child wearing glasses with eye patch over the stronger eye to treat amblyopia and strabismus.


Amblyopia is when one eye is weaker than the other. Some people call this "lazy eye." It causes the brain to take in images from the stronger eye and ignore images from the weaker eye. This leads to poor vision in the weaker eye. It most often affects only one eye. Children can develop the problem between birth and about age 7.

Sometimes amblyopia occurs because the eyes don't focus on the same object. For example, one eye may point straight while the other looks in another direction. This condition is called strabismus. It sends two different images to the brain. In a young child with strabismus, the brain chooses to receive the images from only one eye.

Amblyopia can sometimes be treated if it is caught at a young age. Your doctor may want your child to wear a patch over the stronger eye. This helps develop the vision in the weaker eye. Or your doctor may suggest glasses or eyedrops to blur the vision in the good eye.

Sometimes surgery is needed to fix both problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow directions for wearing an eye patch or glasses or using eyedrops. Your doctor will tell you how many hours a day your child should wear the patch or glasses or how often to use eyedrops.
  • Give your child lots of love and support during treatment. Your child may be teased at school for wearing a patch or glasses. Remind your child how important the patch or glasses are to help your child's vision.
  • Explain the treatment to your child's teachers. Then they can help support your child.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child will not wear the eye patch or glasses.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.