Living with lazy eye (amblyopia)

Finding out that you or your child have a lazy eye can be an emotional time, as it can affect your child's vision. However, lazy eye, or amblyopia, is treatable if caught early.

Any underlying eye condition will need treatment, as well as amblyopia, to help your child develop normal vision.

If a lazy eye does go untreated in childhood, it can lead to vision problems in that eye, but our support and resources can help make the most of your vision.

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Managing your child's lazy eye

If your child has amblyopia, they will probably also need treatment for an underlying eye condition such as a squint or refractive error such as long-sightedness, near-sightedness or astigmatism.

The treatment for a lazy eye is often to wear an eye patch over the unaffected eye, encouraging the use of the affected eye. Most children will wear a patch for a few hours each day for at least a few months.

It can be hard for children to adjust to wearing a patch. They'll have to use their weaker eye, they may be too young to understand why they need it, and of course, a patch is very noticeable to other people. You could offer them rewards for using the patch, and it can also help to meet other children who wear a patch, so they realise they're not alone.

If your child is struggling with a patch, eye drops could be an alternative. These blur the vision in the unaffected eye instead of covering it with a patch.

Speak to your child's eye doctor about finding the best treatment for them. Finding treatment they can stick with will make a positive difference to the outcome for their eyesight long-term. 

Can you drive with a lazy eye?

Your eyesight must meet the DVLA's minimum required standard to drive. Even if a lazy eye has a lasting effect on your vision in the weaker eye, you should be able to drive if the vision in your other eye is good.

If you develop another eye condition in your unaffected eye, you may need to report this to the DVLA. Speak to your optician or eye doctor for advice.

Can you work with a lazy eye?

Most people who've had a lazy eye from childhood adapt well to any reduced vision they have, so it shouldn't impact your working life. If your child has a lazy eye, many future jobs will be open to them in the same way as other children.

Certain job roles require a specific level of vision in both eyes, such as being a pilot, a police officer, and some roles in the armed forces. You might like to help your child research these requirements at the early stage of thinking about their career choices. You could speak to their eye specialist for advice.

If a lazy eye continues into adulthood and causes vision problems, you might benefit from some adjustments at work to make the most of your vision. These could include assistive technology or lighting. Employers are required to support staff with vision problems under the Equality Act.

Support for people living with amblyopia

Your child may be referred to an ophthalmologist - a hospital eye specialist - for treatment and support. You can ask them for advice on helping your child understand their condition and treatment.

Even if a lazy eye is not corrected, most people manage with poor vision in one eye by adapting and making the most of the eyesight in their unaffected eye. If you are living with amblyopia in one eye, it's essential to have regular eye tests to monitor the health of your unaffected eye.

You can also protect your eyesight by wearing sunglasses to defend against UV damage, using protective eyewear when doing DIY, and generally following an active, healthy lifestyle that will contribute to good eye health. 

Frequently asked questions

Get in touch

You can contact us to find out about services and support tailored to your individual needs.

Medically reviewed by: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists on 28/07/2022

Edited by: Nick Astbury FRCS FRCOphth FRCP
Clinical Associate Professor

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

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  • Living with amblyopia