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Home » Blog » The Psychosocial Effects of Amblyopia

The Psychosocial Effects of Amblyopia

It is well known, and intuitive, that children and adults with strabismus (crossed or wandering eyes) have greater difficulty with self image and social situations than people with straight eyes. This is partially cosmetic and partially due to self-awareness that something is "wrong" with their vision. To assist people with strabismus, there are many resources including online support groups and a blog.

A related but different condition is amblyopia (lazy eye), that occurs when the vision doesn't develop normally in one or both eyes and vision is not clear even with the best glasses or contacts. You can't tell a person has amblyopia by looking at them - an eye doctor has to diagnosis it. There are also online support groups for amblyopia.

Research indicates that people with amblyopia are as likely to have social issues as those with strabismus, even though there is no cosmetic concern. The study found that "a significant number of patients felt that amblyopia interfered with school (52%) and work (48%) to some degree and were generally affected in their lifestyle (50%)." Additionally, sports job choices were affected.

The study concludes with 'Psychosocial difficulties related to amblyopia affect individuals' self-image, work, school, and friendships. Amblyopia has a significant effect on psychosocial functioning and warrants aggressive screening, prevention and treatment during the amblyogenic years."

As I say frequently, it is much easier to prevent amblyopia than to treat it. And fortunately, amblyopia can be prevented. Early eye exams are critical for detecting and treating amblyopia. The first exam is recommended at six months of age. If all is well, the next exams should occur at age three and before school.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

12 responses to “The Psychosocial Effects of Amblyopia”

  1. Great find! My son has strabismus and after 4 surgeries his alignment is within a range that is not noticeable to an untrained eye. However our journey to this point was a rocky one.

    One thing to note is that beyond the person with the condition, the family of that person is also psychologically affected. As parents of a child with strabismus, we went through such an emotional rollercoaster during our son’s treatment.

    Thankfully he is a strong and confident child and loves attention. Treated for his condition as a young child, when people stared at him he smiled nice and wide with his beautiful crossed-eyes. As the saying goes…. “it was harder on us that it was on him.”

    – Johnny Vargas
    (author of “Our Journey with Strabismus” a resource for parents of children with strabismus)

  2. Johnny,

    I just ordered your e-book. It looks great! Do you also have plans to sell bound copies? I’d like to place one in the waiting room with the other books.

    After I have a chance to read your e-book, I’d love to interview you about your son and the book, if that is alright.

    -Dr. B

  3. Dr. B.

    Thank you for buying my e-book.

    I do not have any current plans to sell bound copies. I’m new to physical book publishing and have not invested the time to learn more about the process. Perhaps you might help out in that area?

    I would be happy to talk to you by phone or email about our experience and about the book. Feel free to email me directly to discuss in more detail.

    Thank you!

    – Johnny Vargas
    (author of “Our Journey with Strabismus” a resource for parents of children with strabismus)

  4. anonymous says:

    Thanks for all the links re: blogs/forums of support. Am in my 40’s now, but lazy eye and amblyopia were discovered at 18 mo. of age. My folks knew to look for it since my older brother had it as did my father and his before him. Even though patching and eye muscle surgery (twice) was performed early on, I still have uncorrected vision and legal blindness in one eye and still have some “laziness” in that eye (and ptosis). It had a pronounced effect on schoolwork, social interaction, self-esteem and my family’s embarrassment and lack of empathy or help in this matter. I was largely able to overcome school obstacles and visual challenges (much hard work) but never came close to addressing my lack of social interaction (not married, no relationships). I can only imagine just how much tougher it is for those who didn’t have corrective surgery! My life is not normal nor will it ever approach it because of this problem. An now I understand that certain anti-depressants can raise serotonin levels and increase brain plasticity to the point that some improvement (with exercises) is possible in amblyopic patients. My question is: will an ophthalmologist prescribe prozac and exercises on the basis of the research that’s been done? Or will they just tell me to get out of their office?

  5. walnut rose says:

    Try to find an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy.

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    I agree with Walnut Rose. I think it is unlikely that an Ophthalmologist will prescribe Prozac at this time. But I do not think it is needed because vision therapy can be very effective.

    I encourage you to check out and find an optometrist for at least a consultation. That will give you a solid direction to go in.

    Good luck!

    -Dr. B

  7. Missy Stockton says:

    Hi! My name is Missy, my niece Lillith Gaia is 6 months old. My sister is 20 years old. (Mother) On Tuesday, August 19, 2008, we were told that my niece has Strabismus Hypo Amblyopis Pangeria. I do not know one thing about this condition. Our family was hurt, angry, and everything you could think of. Please, if there is anything that someone could do to help us better understand this condition. She is our blessing and we must go forward. Thanks for any response-Missy S., 610 West Virginia, Anadarko, OK 73005

  8. Missy,

    I am sorry to hear about your niece and the worry and frustration her condition is causing the family. Unfortunately, I cannot tell enough from your comment to offer any specific advice.

    I encourage you and your sister to ask the doctors that are caring for Lillith Gaia the questions you have. Ask them if there are resources that exist to help you understand treatment options and what you can expect. You should feel comfortable getting a second opinion from different types of doctors, including optometrists who are familiar with infants.

    Most importantly, do not give up hope and pray for small Lillith.

    I wish you the best,

    -Dr. B.

  9. Carol says:

    Dr B.,

    Thank you for discussing the pyschological effects of Amblyopia in your post. I think it is really important that you touched upon the negative social consequences, because they often go ignored. I work for a non-profit in Arizona called VisionQuest 20/20 that deals with childhood vision disorders, specifically amblyopia. We have come across several children who have had difficulty adjusting to wearing a patch. While it is wonderful and crucial that they are receiving treatment, it doesn't necessarily make the process any easier. We need to focus on detecting amblyopia early so the condition is treated before school or during the early school years!

    -Carol Lamoureux

  10. Carol,

    Is VisionQuest 20/20 related or connected to Jeppeson Vision Quest here in Florida? They provide complete eye exams to children at risk.

    I absolutely agree – early detection is the key.

    I'll check out your blog and Facebook page.

    -Dr. B.

  11. clamoureux says:

    Dr B.,

    We are not related to Jeppeson Vision Quest in FL, but we are about to lauch our program initiative in some of the Florida districts within the next few months. I will have to check out their website!


  12. clamoureux says:

    Dr B.,

    We are not related to Jeppeson Vision Quest in FL, but we are about to lauch our program initiative in some of the Florida districts within the next few months. I will have to check out their website!


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