• Amblyopia: Who is at risk for lazy eye?

    Written by: Kierstan Boyd
    Reviewed by: Denise Satterfield MD
    Sep. 01, 2013

    The following factors can raise a child's risk of having amblyopia (lazy eye):

    • Having misaligned eyes (strabismus)
    • Severe nearsightedness or farsightedness in both eyes
    • Unequal vision in both eyes (one eye more nearsighted or farsighted than the other)
    • Having a condition that prevents light from entering the eye correctly, such as cataract or possibly a droopy eyelid
    • Family history of amblyopia or strabismus
    • Premature birth or low birth weight

    Detecting strabismus and amblyopia in children

    All children, whether or not they are at risk for amblyopia (lazy eye), should have their eyes examined during their regular well-child visits with their primary care doctor or provider; detecting and treating amblyopia as early as possible will make a real difference later on in their lives. In addition to the well-baby exams that all babies should have as newborns and between ages 6 to 12 months, preschool-aged children should have their vision screened by their pediatrician or primary care doctor between 3 and 4 years old.

    Most primary care or pediatric doctors test vision as part of a child's medical examination. They may refer a child to an ophthalmologist if there is any sign of eye problems.

    If there is a family history of misaligned eyes, childhood cataracts or a serious eye disease, an ophthalmologist should examine the eyes during infancy.