Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) / Strabismus (Turned Eye)

Amblyopia or lazy eye is a treatable form of vision loss. It occurs when the brain and eyes are not working together efficiently, causing reduced vision in one or both eyes. Because the neural connection from the lazy eye to the brain is decreased, this can sometimes result in a turned eye or strabismus, where the eye can turn up, down, in or out. This disruption in vision leads the brain to blunt the image coming in from one eye in favour of the other.

The decreased neural signal from the amblyopic eye to the brain can also lead to a turned eye. Alternatively, amblyopia can also occur the other way due to an image disruption through the turned eye. Therefore lazy eye and turned eye often occur hand in hand.

Non-surgical treatment for Strabismus

Source: Wow Vision Therapy
The most common indicator is an obvious difficulty with depth perception, has trouble catching and throwing objects, or is frequently bumping into things.

What Causes Amblyopia/Strabismus?

Amblyopia and strabismus typically develop during infancy and early childhood, but can also occur in adulthood after a traumatic brain injury. It affects approximately 3% of the world’s population.

The exact reason why amblyopia and strabismus develops is not definite, but it is thought to occur when the images coming through both eyes cannot be reconciled by the brain during a person’s development. The brain therefore develops a solution to the problem by suppressing, blurring, or turning one of the eyes out of the way. There can also be cases where the images of both eyes are affected, and the brain never develops the ability to see clearly with both of the eyes.

The human visual system is designed to use both eyes to explore visual space. When both eyes cannot see similarly and the brain can’t easily combine the images, the person loses many of the skills essential for good visual development.

What are the symptoms?

Because amblyopia can look normal from the outside, it is difficult to detect by simple observation.  The most common indicators are:

  • Impaired depth perception
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Frequent tripping or bumping into things
  • Trouble with processing visual information
  • Struggling with reading or comprehension

As children often don’t have a concept of what ‘normal vision’ is, it can go undiagnosed until their first eye test. Therefore some children can go through their whole schooling life never realising that they have it. Having one eye suppressed can impact on the development of visual processing skills, which in turn can prevent them from reaching their potential.


Historically, it was believed that amblyopia and strabismus could only be treated in the “critical period” before the age of seven. Although treatment at an earlier age is highly beneficial, recent research has proven this assumption wrong, with much success among older vision therapy patients.

The traditional treatment method was limited to patching or atropine eye drops to cover or blur the better-seeing eye. However compliance is typically low due to the discomfort (both visually and physically), and bullying in the classroom. Even done properly, patients may not necessarily develop the skills to team both eyes together, leading to stereo blindness, deficiency in depth perception, and poor hand-eye coordination.

Today, studies have shown that combining Vision Therapy with patching is a far more effective treatment for lazy eye than patching alone. This method treats the root cause of amblyopia and strabismus by emphasizing the development of binocular vision and visual information processing. All treatment sessions are conducted in the office by a trained vision therapist, under the supervision on an Optometrist, along with guided in-home activities. As a result, our patients gain significantly faster and better results, including restoration of sight, depth percenption, visual processing abilities and hand-eye coordination.

Please be aware that there are many Opthalmologists who disagree with Vision Therapy to treat lazy eye and turned eye. This is because the philosophy behind vision therapy is not part of their training. Their specialty lies in treating the medical side of eyes, whereas lazy eye and turned eye are so much more than just structural flaws.

Studies show that by simply wearing SHAW lenses, vision in a lazy eye can show marked improvements in a matter of months without patching.

The SHAW neuro-functional lenses are perfect for patients with lazy eyes, turned eyes or large prescription differences between their eyes. It uses specialised measurements to take into account how your eyes move together, and balance image size differences that are caused by unequal spectacle prescriptions. When your glasses make the images different sizes, your brain has to fight to focus on each word – and that’s made more difficult when the eye scans from the end of one sentence back to the start of the next. This is why it is so important to have a lens that balances the images so they’re the same size.


What are the benefits?

By simply wearing the SHAW lenses, you will experience an improvement in:

  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Reading difficulties
  • Double vision
  • Depth perception & 3D vision
  • Dizziness
  • Distorted vision

How does it help with Lazy Eye?

Studies show that by simply wearing SHAW lenses, vision in a lazy eye can show marked improvements in a matter of months without patching. Amblyopia (or lazy eye) is caused by an image in one eye that is not synching with the image in the other eye. The SHAW lenses provide the lazy eye with an ‘equal footing’ to the leading eye, which allows the eyes to integrate the images more easily.

Research shows that the use of a SHAW lens enhances binocular (two-eyed) vision, and is preferred to patching as a first step in the treatment of amblyopia. In addition to treatment with a SHAW lens, today’s best practice approach for the treatment of amblyopia involves training of the visual brain through office-based vision therapy.