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Are Lazy Eyes Genetic?

Reviewed on 8/12/2020

Are lazy eyes genetic?

Genetics can play a role in causing lazy eyes. If there's a family history of amblyopia (lazy eye), you should consult an eye doctor by the time your child is two years of age.
Genetics can play a role in causing lazy eyes. If there's a family history of amblyopia (lazy eye), you should consult an eye doctor by the time your child is two years of age.

Yes, genetics can play a role in causing lazy eyes. In case of a family history of amblyopia (lazy eye), it is better to consult an eye doctor at two years of age. 

From a child’s birth until their 18th birthday, the brain and eyes form crucial connections. Conditions that block or dim the vision in one or both the eyes can delay these connections. 

This results in vision from one eye being dimmer than another. Eventually, the brain learns to neglect the dim image and the eyesight in the weak eye is lost.

What is a lazy eye?

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a condition in which one eye has poor vision due to a lack of coordination between the brain and eye. Lazy eyes mainly occur in children and should be treated early. Over time, the brain favors the stronger eye, leading to permanent vision problems. Amblyopia affects three out of 100 children. 

What causes a lazy eye?

Some of the most common causes of a lazy eye:

  • Refractive errors: In this condition, one eye has a good focus compared to the other. The other eye may have nearsightedness, farsightedness, or blurry vision (astigmatism). This can lead to the brain favoring the stronger eye, ultimately, leading to vision loss in the weaker eye.
  • Strabismus (squint): In this condition, the eyes don’t move together as a pair. One eye might drift in and out. 
  • Cataracts: This condition causes cloudiness in the lens of the eye, blurring vision. It mostly occurs in older people, but in some cases, babies and children can also develop cataracts.
  • Ptosis: A drooping eyelid can obstruct vision.

Some of the contributing factors, which increase the risk of getting a lazy eye are:

  • Premature birth
  • Family history of amblyopia
  • Low birth weight
  • Developmental disabilities

When to see a doctor?

Consult a doctor if you notice these signs in the first few years of a child’s life:

  • Head tilting
  • Wandering eyes 
  • Squinting or shutting one eye
  • A regular eye check is vital if there’s a family history of squint eyes, cataracts, or other eye conditions.

What can I expect during the evaluation of amblyopia?

The eye doctor will review your medical history, personal, or family history and look for also signs and symptoms of amblyopia. The doctor examines the vision and eye movement. 

Next, the doctor instills eye drops to dilate the pupils and performs a complete examination of the eyes. This helps the doctor to check for any abnormalities.

Can amblyopia be corrected if diagnosed early?

Yes, amblyopia can be corrected with better outcomes if diagnosed early. Correction for amblyopia should begin as early as possible to prevent permanent blindness. If there’s a family history of amblyopia, then consulting an eye doctor regularly is necessary. 

Depending on the cause, the correction might involve:

  • Correction of vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. The doctor might prescribe glasses to help their eye to focus.
  • Wearing an eye patch over the stronger eye forces the brain to use the weak one. This therapy might improve your vision in a few days.
  • Atropine eye drops to blur the strong eye forcing the brain to use the weak eye. This therapy replaces the need for an eye patch.
  • Surgery might be preferred to treat cataract or strabismus

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