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Amblyopia vs. Strabismus

Amblyopia vs. Strabismus

Many people can’t tell the difference between amblyopia and strabismus. These two functional visual problems usually share a lot of similar characteristics. This article has produced a comparison of the two conditions which will help you easily tell the difference of amblyopia from strabismus.

The difference between amblyopia and strabismus

Amblyopia is a visual problem related to the eyesight or visual acuity. A person with amblyopia has difficulty seeing images even when using prescription glasses.

Strabismus is a problem related to eye alignment where both of the victim’s eyes don’t look in the same direction at the same time.


The slang term used to refer to this condition is ‘crossed eyes.’

Causes of strabismus

Strabismus is a severe medical problem related to eye taming. This causes both of the eyes to point at different places at the same time making it difficult for the brain to combine the images collected by both eyes to form a single 3D image.

Symptoms of strabismus

The most obvious symptom is the observable eye turn. Other symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Poor depth perception
  • Eye strain and pain
  • Double vision
  • Eye and general fatigue

Treatment for strabismus

Most people opt for surgery in treating strabismus, but this doesn’t usually address the problem of eye teaming. Vision therapy usually addresses the cause of the problem, enabling the victim to develop eye taming skills. In other cases, you may need to use a combination of the two; surgery and vision therapy.


The slang term for amblyopia is “lazy eye.” It is the lack of the development of clear vision in either one or both eyes for reasons not related to eye health.

The cause of amblyopia

When the image captured by one eye is affected, your brain fails to effectively combine both of the images and suppresses or “turns off” from processing images from one eye. But if the images from both eyes are affected, then the brain fails to process the images, thus the victim has problems seeing clearly.

Types of amblyopia

There are three types of amblyopia, and they all result from suppression of the victim’s vision in either one or both eyes.

  • Refractive amblyopia – an uncorrected high prescription from the affected eye
  • Strabismic amblyopia – constant eye turn
  • Deprivation amblyopia – an impaired vision in one eye

Symptoms of amblyopia

Amblyopia doesn’t carry any outward signs and can’t be easily detected. Its symptoms include:

  • Poor depth perception
  • Clumsiness
  • Head turn or tilt
  • Difficulty throwing and catching objects
  • Shutting an eye
  • Fatigue with near work
  • Eye strain

Treatments for amblyopia

Prescribed glasses can help sometimes. Eye drops can also be used in some cases and an eye patch used in the amblyopic eye. Vision therapy is also helpful in some cases.

Do you have a question about the difference between strabismus and amblyopia? Click here to see ophthalmology and adult strabismus expert Dr. Sami for an exam!