Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
Is surgery possible for adults with amblyopia? 
  

Answer:
It depends on what caused the amblyopia (also referred to as lazy eye). This condition leads to decreased vision in one eye from birth either from 1) strabismus amblyopia (unequal alignment of the eyes) ; 2) anisometropic amblyopia (a severe difference in the prescription from the two eyes in which the brain shuts down the eye with the highest prescription and uses eye with smaller prescription); or 3) form deprivation amblyopia—commonly caused by a congenital cataract or any eye disease that blocks vision as a newborn or child.

If these conditions are not fixed as a child (before the age of 9- to 10-years-old), the vision loss remains permanent. So no surgery can be done to make the eye see normal vision in adulthood if the amblyopia was not treated as a child. Having said that, adults with strabismus amblyopia can have eye muscle surgery to straighten the eyes but it only improves cosmetic appearance and won't improve vision in the amblyopic eye. Laser vision correction (LASIK or PRK) can be performed on the eye with a high prescription in cases of mild amblyopia to allow the weaker eye to be less dependent on glasses, but it will not make the vision return to normal and will only make the eye see as well as it did with glasses.

Answered by: W. Barry Lee, MDDr. W. Barry Lee

Categories: Eye Conditions; Eye Surgery

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Answered: Apr 23, 2012

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