In this particular episode of Ask an Eye Doc, you will learn:
- The medical term for lazy eye
- The correct definition of lazy eye
- What causes lazy eye
This is the first episode in a series of 4 episodes about lazy eye. Be sure to check out the following episodes for more information about lazy eye:
- episode 33 – What is lazy eye? Part 2: strabismic amblyopia
- episode 34 – What is lazy eye? Part 3: refractive amblyopia
- episode 35 – What is lazy eye? Part 4: deprivation amblyopia
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For you readers out there, here’s the answer in written form:
Initially, I was going to make this post a single episode. How hard could it be to answer a simple question, “What is lazy eye?”
When I got to answering the question and looking at the notes I had taken, I soon realized that it was going to be a really long episode and I was going to sacrifice detail if I didn’t break it up into a series of episodes. So here is the first in a series of four episodes about lazy eye.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about lazy eye. It’s one of those terms that is used a lot, despite not being fully understood.
The medical term for lazy eye is amblyopia. “Ambly-” comes from Greek, meaning “blunt”, “dull”, “faint”, or “dim”, and “-opia” refers to vision. So, amblyopia is a condition that causes dim or blurred vision despite having an otherwise healthy eye. People with lazy eye have blurred vision even while wearing their prescription glasses or contact lenses.
So if the eye appears healthy, what causes the blurred vision?
It turns out that amblyopia isn’t an eye problem, it’s a brain problem. As a child’s brain is developing, if certain conditions are not met, the eye-brain connection will not develop properly.
We call these conditions amblyogenic risk factors. The suffix “-genic” means “causing”, so an amblyogenic risk factor is something that causes amblyopia.
Three amblyogenic risk factors
There are three types of amblyopia based on which amblyogenic risk factor was responsible for the development of amblyopia. They are strabismic, refractive, and deprivation amblyopia.
Strabismic amblyopia means the amblyopia was caused by a strabismus, or an eye turn. Refractive amblyopia means it was caused by a strong glasses prescription, and deprivation amblyopia means there was something physically blocking the vision.
Now you know!
Now you know the basic definition of amblyopia! In the next three episodes, I’m going to talk in more detail about each of the three types of amblyopia.