big img

Amblyopia and Strabismus: What’s the Difference

May 19, 2022

Amblyopia and strabismus are two different conditions though they are closely related. You probably already know amblyopia as “lazy eye” and strabismus as being “cross-eyed.”

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the two conditions and address the questions: “what is a lazy eye?” and “what causes crossed eyes in babies?”, among several others. We’ll also take a look at common symptoms and treatment options from specialist eye doctors.

What’s the Difference Between Amblyopia and Strabismus

The amblyopia vs strabismus question is easy to answer. You can tell the difference just by looking at a person’s eyes! Your eye doctor can help determine which condition is affecting you or a loved one.

What Is Amblyopia?

what is amblyopia.

So, what is a lazy eye? It is defined by a person having a developmental problem in only one eye. It starts at a young age and means the eye eventually cannot function properly without the use of prescription lenses. It typically only affects one eye and its most noticeable symptom is the uneven appearance of the eyes – like they are unaligned. It is also defined by a lack of visual acuity.

Refractive amblyopia doesn’t have the visual effect of a “lazy eye,” in that the eyes may be aligned perfectly. However, one eye may have developed poorly and as a result, a person may be long or short-sighted in one eye but not the other.

What Is Strabismus?

what is strabismus.

Strabismus is better known as “cross-eyed” and unlike amblyopia, it affects both eyes. It is primarily defined by a lack of alignment in both eyes which result in them turning up, or sometimes up and sideways. This may occur all the time or intermittently and it is combined with visual acuity problems that require prescription lenses to treat.

People often ask, “how common is strabismus?” and the answer is that it’s actually fairly common. It affects around 4% of children below the age of six, and it is often accompanied by other conditions.

Amblyopia Symptoms

Some of the most common amblyopia symptoms include poor depth perception, head tilting, eyes that appear to be unaligned, or an eye that wanders. Given that the condition is most common in young people and occurs at a young age, it might be difficult for a young person to know there is a problem.

If your child fusses or struggles when you cover one eye, it may also indicate amblyopia. It’s important, therefore, that you book an appointment with a local eye doctor to examine your child and ensure their eyes are in good health. Catching conditions early reduces the impact conditions like this can have on children’s lives.

Strabismus Symptoms

Strabismus symptoms include poor depth perception, much like amblyopia, but may also include double vision, fatigue, headaches, and “jittery” vision. Again, it may be difficult to diagnose a condition like this if your child is young, making it important to seek expert help if you have even the slightest concern your child may have visual problems.

One of the biggest giveaways of this condition is a lack of alignment between the eyes, as well as squinting. If you notice either of these things, don’t hesitate to reach out to your eye doctor.

What Causes Amblyopia?

There are several amblyopia causes and they all depend on the kind of condition someone has. Refractive amblyopia is caused by refractive problems in the eyes. Deprivation amblyopia, however, occurs as a result of congenital cataracts.

Strabismic amblyopia is the most common variety, and also the answer to the question “what causes lazy eye?”

It is caused by the brain ignoring the input from a misaligned eye, allowing the eye to wander because its input is largely unimportant.

What Causes Strabismus?

Strabismus cause can be traumatic or genetic. Common causes of this condition include bad vision in one eye, refractive errors that haven’t been corrected by prescription lenses, or even brain tumors and strokes. People with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy are also more likely to suffer from the condition.

Strabismus can also be caused by head injuries.

Amblyopia Treatment

amblyopia treatment.

Amblyopia treatment can greatly improve your vision or your child’s vision. When caught early, too, its impact can be hugely mitigated. All children should have their eyes checked before their 4th birthday, so whether you’re concerned about the condition or not it’s important for you to arrange an appointment.

Treatment focuses on encouraging a child to use their weaker eye, which might include wearing an eyepatch over their stronger eye. Treatment can also include eye drops to blur the vision in the stronger eye. This is how to fix a lazy eye and in most cases, it works very well.

Strabismus Treatment

strabismus treatment.

Strabismus treatment is varied. Your eye doctor will determine which course of treatment is best depending on the cause of the problem. It may include prescribing prescription eyeglasses, or may extend to vision therapy.

In some cases, eye muscle surgery can be necessary. The main thing to remember, though, is that catching this condition early can often completely resolve the issue. So don’t be shy about reaching out to an eye doctor.


Strabismus and amblyopia can be corrected, but it’s important to catch them early. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for your young children, particularly before they reach the age of four, in hopes of catching any potential problems early.

If you experience any of the symptoms described above, or if you notice them in your child, be sure to reach out to our team at Kraff Eye Institute. We’re Chicago’s trusted specialists in eyecare and we offer a range of treatment options.

Call us now at (312) 444-1111 to schedule an appointment.


What causes crossed eyes in babies?

Expand F.A.Q.

Crossed eyes in babies is typically genetic and can be the result of an underlying condition like Downs syndrome, or refractive errors.

How common is strabismus?

Expand F.A.Q.

Strabismus occurs in around 4% of young children.

Is amblyopia treatable?

Expand F.A.Q.

Yes, and it is most effective when caught early.

Can amblyopia be corrected?

Expand F.A.Q.

Yes, amblyopia has multiple treatment options

Does amblyopia get worse with age?

Expand F.A.Q.

It can if it is left untreated.

Is amblyopia genetic?

Expand F.A.Q.

Amblyopia is typically caused by genetic issues but can also develop as the result of trauma.

How long does it take to correct a lazy eye?

Expand F.A.Q.

Treatment often spans around three months.

Can LASIK fix amblyopia?

Expand F.A.Q.

Typically, no. However, the chances of developing the problem can be reduced by using LASIK to treat shortsightedness and farsightedness.

Can you go blind from strabismus?

Expand F.A.Q.

If left untreated, yes, it can cause a lack of visual acuity and later, blindness.

Can glasses fix strabismus?

Expand F.A.Q.

Yes, depending on what causes it.

Dr. Colman R. Kraff

Committed to advancing new technologies in the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Colman Kraff helped to pioneer laser vision correction. In February of 1991, as part of a five-site, U.S., FDA clinical trial team, Dr. Kraff successfully performed the first excimer laser procedures in the Chicagoland area using the VISX Excimer Laser.

Schedule Consultation
To schedule a complimentary LASIK consultation, please click Schedule LASIK Consultation or call (312) 444-1111.
To inquire about other services, please fill out our Vision Correction Consultation form.
Fill  out the form

Schedule Consultation

You can simply CALL US or make an appointment using the online forms at the links below

312-444-1111Schedule Consultation