It may be your eyes:
Amblyopia vs. Strabismus — The Similarities & Differences

Amblyopia vs. Strabismus — The Similarities & Differences

If you or a loved one have experienced painful symptoms related to your impaired vision, your doctor may have diagnosed you with either amblyopia or strabismus. People often confuse these two conditions and conflate their symptoms. Use this guide to learn the similarities and differences between the two conditions and the best treatment options for you or your loved one.  There are great treatment options available. For all eye conditions, there are capable specialists who are ready to assist you.   

What Is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia is also known as lazy eye, and you may or may not be able to see its physical symptoms easily. This condition occurs when poor vision develops in one eye, and the brain relies on the stronger eye. This makes the eye that is already struggling become even weaker. This poor vision may be caused by refractive errors, or you may have deprivation amblyopia which is due to physical problems in the eye. There is a significant prevalence of amblyopia, with between 2% and 4% of children having amblyopia up to the age of 15. This condition can also affect adults.

What Is Strabismus?

Strabismus is more commonly known as crossed or walled eyes, though it may affect only one eye and not both. About 13 million people, or about 4% of the United States population, have strabismus. About 30% of cases of children with crossed/walled eyes inherited the condition from a parent - making family history an important factor. Though there are many types of strabismus, most cases result from a neuromuscular control problem or a problem with the actual muscles around the eye. 

Strabismus vs. Amblyopia: The Differences

There are several differences between strabismus and amblyopia. If you have strabismus, you have a problem with eye alignment. Both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time. Amblyopia in all its forms, like refractive amblyopia, is a problem with visual acuity or eyesight. One eye has better vision than the other. Strabismus is easier to spot since there is a more observable ocular alignment issue, even at a few months of age. If you have amblyopia, there may be no visible signs that one of the eyes is weaker than the other.  Patients with constant strabismus might show fewer obvious symptoms because the brain suppresses the images from that eye. This helps them avoid some problems affecting people with intermittent strabismus or other functional eye problems like amblyopia.  

Strabismus vs. Amblyopia: The Similarities

Both strabismus and amblyopia are functional vision problems. This means they come from the interplay between your eyes, brain, and the visual pathways that create functional binocular vision and help you see. Both conditions can make it hard for you to carry out your day-to-day activities unless you get the proper treatment. Amblyopia and Strabismus share many symptoms, including: These shared symptoms are why it can be difficult for people to differentiate between strabismus and amblyopia. It may also be difficult to tell the difference between the two because they can manifest in a similar visual appearance. Lack of proper diagnosis can affect visual development in children especially. Knowing the difference between these conditions is essential. If you suspect you or a loved one has either, you should immediately see a vision specialist.  

Strabismus and Amblyopia Treatment

Treatments for strabismus and amblyopia usually differ but can include an eye patch, contact lenses, or even surgery. However, there is one treatment that can help address both conditions. Specialized prism glasses have lenses with prisms built in. These prisms bend light so that the images your eyes see are aligned. Your eyes can then send these aligned images to the brain. When the images presented by each eye to your brain are aligned, your brain does not have to struggle to create the single image that you “see”.. This prevents the brain from sending signals back to your eyes that tell them to realign themselves. This signaling between your eyes and your brain is essential to addressing issues like double vision and the other troubles that come with functional vision problems.  All of these corrections between your eyes and your brain take practically no time at all, but they are long enough to cause serious problems. Fortunately, prisms can correct them with no risk factors (unlike eye muscle surgery). Prism can be built into your regular prescription if you also have nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. You can wear your specialized glasses all the time, helping keep your vision on track without interruption and promoting eye health.  These specialized glasses can help alleviate the symptoms of conditions like strabismus and amblyopia. Your specialist can build a small amount of prism into your lenses for slight problems or give you a higher power lens to correct more significant issues.

Excellent Prism Glasses at Vision Specialists

You or your loved one does not have to live with the symptoms and effects of strabismus or amblyopia. Vision Specialists of Michigan specializes in diagnosing complex eye conditions and treating patients with prism lenses made to address their individual needs.  Getting the glasses you need can alleviate your physical symptoms and the anxiety you feel when you can't function as you would like due to poor vision. You or your loved one can live a symptom-free life; contact Vision Specialists today.

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  • American Academy Optometry
  • American Optometric Association
  • Michigan Optometric Association
  • VEDA
  • Neuro Optometry Rehabilitation Association