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What is worse than lazy?

What is worse than lazy?

Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that didn’t develop normal sight during early childhood. It is sometimes called «lazy eye.»

Cause of Amblyopia

One cause of amblyopia is strabismus (pronounced struh-biz-muhs). Strabismus is a condition where one eye turns inward or outward. The eyes cannot clearly focus on the same image, so the brain ignores the image from the turned eye. Over time, the vision in this eye becomes worse.

Another cause of amblyopia is when one eye has much better vision than the other eye. This can happen if there is a difference in glasses prescription between the two eyes or if something is blocking the vision of an eye, such as a cataract. The brain will get a blurry image from one eye and a clear image from the other eye. The images sent from the blurred eye are ignored by the brain and the vision in this eye becomes worse over time.

Some children have amblyopia in both eyes if they have a high glasses prescription or something blocking the vision in both eyes. Glasses can improve vision over time if caught early.


If not properly treated, amblyopia can cause:

  • Permanent vision loss in the eye with amblyopia
  • Loss of depth perception (seeing in three dimensions)
  • May affect future jobs (for example, becoming a pilot)


Common treatments for amblyopia include wearing glasses, patching, and using eye drops. All of these therapies aim to strengthen vision in one or both eyes. Early treatment provides the best results, since children’s brains and eyes are still developing.

Patching or Eye Drops

A patch is placed over the strong eye, which forces the child to use the weaker eye. As a result, the weak eye gets stronger. Your child must wear the patch every day. Eye drops are used in the stronger eye to temporarily blur the vision and allow the weaker eye to strengthen. The number of hours per day of patching or frequency of using the eye drops depend on the cause of amblyopia and the visual acuity of the child – your doctor will specify your child’s treatment plan.

Ways to Help Your Child Pass the Time

  • Using a close-up device such as an iPad or computer
  • Coloring, cutting paper, making crafts, playing with Play-Doh
  • Playing video games
  • Reading books
  • Having the child wear the patch when already distracted (for example, while playing, watching a movie, or eating)

Red Mark or Rash on Face from the Patch

Rub Aquaphor healing ointment or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream on the irritation before bedtime to promote quick healing. To prevent further irritation, put a small layer of Milk of Magnesia (or similar brand) on the skin where the patch is to be applied. Then apply the patch on top of the dried Milk of Magnesia. This will protect the skin and help the patch come off more easily.

What if the Eye Starts To Turn In or Out?

Do not stop patching. Call your doctor.

Glasses and Treatment

If your child is wearing glasses, he/she should keep wearing the glasses during patching or before and after putting in eye drops.

Problems with the Patch

If your child has problems with patching, call your doctor; do not wait for your next appointment. There are alternative treatments, including eye drops. Talk with your child’s eye doctor for more information.

Additional Resources

  • American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
  • Division of Ophthalmology, Cincinnati Children’s, 513-636-4751
  • Ohio Amblyope Registry (Ohio residents only)
  • Additional patches: available through local pharmacies

Last Updated 05/2021

Reviewed By Kelly Morgan, OD, MS

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Lazy eye

A lazy eye does not always cause symptoms and is often first diagnosed during an eye test.

The main symptoms include:

  • shutting 1 eye or squinting when looking at things
  • eyes pointing in different directions (a squint)
  • not being able to follow an object or person with your eyes
  • tilting your head when looking at something
  • having tired eyes and rubbing your eyes a lot
  • headaches
  • difficulty catching or throwing
  • tripping or falling over a lot
  • blinking a lot

Many children do not notice anything wrong with their vision.

You can check a younger child’s eyes by covering each eye with your hand, 1 at a time. They may complain if you cover their good eye.

Older children may say they’re not able to see as well with 1 eye and may have problems with reading, writing and drawing.

Non-urgent advice: Go to an opticians if:

  • you’re worried about your or your child’s vision
  • you have not had an eye test for 2 years

What happens during an eye test

To check if you or your child have a lazy eye, an eye test specialist called an optometrist will usually do an eye test.

You’ll be asked to look at lights or read letters while different lenses are placed in front of your eyes.

To check the health of your eyes, you or your child may be given eye drops so the optometrist can see the back of your eye more clearly.

If you or your child needs glasses, you’ll be given a prescription. You can take this to any optician.


NHS eye tests

NHS eye tests are free for some people, including:

  • children aged under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • people who have diabetes or glaucoma
  • people on some benefits, including Universal Credit

Treatments for a lazy eye

How lazy eye is treated depends on what’s causing it.

Treatment for a lazy eye aims to improve vision in the weaker eye.

This may include:

  • wearing glasses to correct your vision
  • wearing an eye patch over the stronger eye for a few hours a day for several months – these are usually worn with glasses
  • using eye drops to temporarily blur vision in the stronger eye

Treatment should ideally start before the age of 7, when vision is still developing.

If lazy eye is caused by cataracts or a drooping eyelid, you may need surgery.

You may also need to have surgery if you have a squint. This will straighten the eyes and allow them to work together better, but does not improve your vision.

Help with the cost of glasses and contact lenses

Some people are entitled to a voucher to help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses, including:

  • children aged under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • if you’re on some benefits, including Universal Credit

If you do not have a voucher, you’ll have to pay for glasses or contact lenses.

Help us improve our information

Can you answer some questions about eye tests for children to help us improve our information?

Page last reviewed: 04 January 2023
Next review due: 04 January 2026

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You could do a lot worse than being a lazy parent – and here’s why

Experts are advocating a more hands-off style of parenting to encourage creativity and resilience in children

“Do less.” This is the prescription that clinical psychologist Dr Jenna Vyas-Lee hands out to families hour after hour, day after day, in her central London consulting room. With a specialism in child development and years of experience dealing with parental burnout, she finds herself advocating more and more for a lazier, more hands-off style of parenting.

“Parents come to me because they want an expert to give them information, but almost every single time, their homework is to stop. Stop reading parenting books, stop listening to podcasts, delete the parenting accounts off your Instagram and just go for an ice cream or watch tele­vision with your kids.”

Parenting, she says, has become sacrificial, with many parents hoovering up books and podcasts on attachment theory, and trying to apply the lot to each aspect of their child’s upbringing. Turbocharged by a ­multi-billion-pound parenting industry, and amplified by social media awash with “hacks” and “scripts” for what to say and do with your child, it’s no wonder many mums and dads end up feeling bad about the way they ­parent.

“This pressure is creating low mood and anxiety, particularly among mothers,” says Dr Vyas-Lee, “It’s a strong statement, but I do think there’s a strong correlation between overparenting and mental-health issues in families and among parents.”

And it’s not working out well for children, either. While the overparented child might seem to enjoy an endless carousel of play dates, clubs, activities and hands-on “quality time” with their mum or dad, they will likely be seriously lacking in downtime.

Freedom to roam

A US study published last month in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests the rise in ­mental-health disorders in children and teens is linked to a decline over decades in opportunities for them to play and roam without being watched over by adults. And here, the British Psycho­logical Society continues to campaign against the erosion of kids’ school playtime, with fewer children than ever before getting to play outside on the street.

Experts agree that all this is diminishing children’s ability to deal with failure and bounce back from ­setbacks, hence why you’ll find every headteacher in the land promising to build children’s “resilience”. “We ­definitely have a problem with children’s resilience,” says Dr Vyas-Lee, co-founder of mental-health clinic Kove. “It’s about building up a tolerance for things being hard or difficult. If you never fall, or if every time you fall someone catches you, where is the resilience building?”

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