In this particular episode of Ask an Eye Doc, you will learn:

  • What is deprivation amblyopia
  • Cataracts aren’t just for the elderly
  • Why a droopy eyelid isn’t lazy eye

This is the third episode in a series about lazy eye. This episode will make more sense if you’ve already listened to:

If you find this episode to be helpful, please leave me a 5-star review on iTunes at or you can help support the show by going to
If you have another question about lazy eye or any other eye-related condition, go to to be featured on Ask an Eye Doc!

For you readers out there, here’s the answer in written form:

In part 1 of this series, we learned how amblyopia, or lazy eye, is actually a brain problem and not an eye problem. We also talked about the three amblyogenic risk factors or eye conditions that can lead to amblyopia.

If that doesn’t sound familiar, be sure to listen to episode 32 first so that this episode makes more sense. Today’s episode focuses on the third amblyogenic risk factor mentioned in episode 32, which is deprivation.

Deprivation amblyopia

Deprivation amblyopia is not as common as strabismic or refractive amblyopia, but it tends to be more severe when it does happen. It occurs when an eye is deprived of vision due to obstruction. This happens anytime there’s something physically preventing light from reaching the retina. (Listen to episode 7 if you don’t remember what the retina is).

This obstruction can happen anywhere in front of the retina, including cataracts, corneal opacities, and ptosis. Because of the obstruction of light, the eye does not receive a clear image and cannot develop the right connection with the brain, leading to permanently blurred vision, or lazy eye.

Congenital cataracts

In episode 5 we learned about age-related cataracts and the slow opacification of the focusing lens in the aging eye. Cataracts can also be congenital, meaning they are present at birth. If the cataract is large enough to cause amblyopia, the infant will need to have it surgically removed. The sooner this is detected, the better the visual outcome will be.

Corneal opacities

There are several rare genetic defects that can affect the clarity of the cornea. Check out episode 20 if you don’t remember what the cornea is. Just like congenital cataracts, if they aren’t treated (usually with surgery), the child will develop amblyopia.

Congenital ptosis

Another condition that can lead to deprivation amblyopia is congenital ptosis. A ptosis is a droopy eyelid. Many people confuse this with lazy eye, but an eyelid that droops itself is not lazy. It IS a risk factor for lazy eye if the lid position is low enough to physically prevent light from entering the eye. If the ptosis is severe enough, eyelid surgery is required to raise the position of the lid and prevent amblyopia from developing.

Now you know!

So now you know what deprivation amblyopia is! Again anything that can deprive the retina of light or physically block light from reaching the retina, is an amblyogenic risk factor and can lead to lazy eye.

This completes our four-part series on lazy eye! Thanks for hanging in there!


If you found this episode to be helpful, be sure to leave a 5-star review on iTunes by going to or you can support the show at
If you have another question about lazy eye or any other eye-related condition, go to to be featured on Ask an Eye Doc.
AAED 35: What is lazy eye? Part 4: deprivation amblyopia
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