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Amblyopia vs. Strabismus: What’s the Difference?

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A boy is sitting on a sofa with a cover on hir right eye and is watching on his tablet with his lazy eye.

Amblyopia and Strabismus, or “lazy eyes” and “crossed eyes,” are two types of vision conditions that affect many Americans and people worldwide. 

They have some similarities that have led to people mistakenly labeling them as the same, but they are two completely different conditions. Amblyopia is typically referred to as a “lazy eye” and strabismus is typically referred to as “crossed eyes.”.

Learn more about these two conditions by reading the complete blog below, and book an appointment at Hercules Optometric Group to examine your eyes for any issues or problems that may be present. 

How to Tell the Difference Between Amblyopia & Strabismus 

People often mistakenly label strabismus with the term “lazy eye,” as we usually do with amblyopia. Strabismus is an issue with your eye’s alignment and is commonly described as “cross-eyed.” It is a condition where the eyes will typically not look at the same place, and it can be categorized based on the direction in which the eye turns. 

Another common reason people might mistake the two conditions is that some types of strabismus can lead to amblyopia, like esotropia and exotropia. Yet, they remain different conditions and, in many cases, need to follow different treatment plans. 

If you are experiencing any issues with your eye alignment or visual acuity, book an appointment with one of our experienced doctors at Hercules Optometric Group

What Is Amblyopia? 

Amblyopia is a visual condition that typically occurs in only one eye of the individual with the condition. Amblyopia is prevalent in children and typically starts in childhood or is a born condition. In most cases, it happens when the brain and affected eye have difficulty working together, which leads to the brain relying more heavily on the stronger eye. Treatment should be started as soon as possible because vision in the affected eye can progress negatively over time

Symptoms of Amblyopia 

Regarding amblyopia, It is not unusual for symptoms to be challenging to spot. A thorough eye exam by your doctor is generally the best method for determining if you have amblyopia. Here are a few of the more common symptoms

  • Difficulty with judging distances
  • Squinting 
  • Shutting 1 eye to see 
  • Tilting head 

Treatments for Amblyopia 

Ideally, amblyopia treatment will begin quickly after the condition is identified and before it can progress any further. Here are a few of the treatment options currently available:

Corrective Eyewear 

If you are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism due to your lazy eye, corrective eyewear like glasses and contacts can treat the condition. 

Eye Patches

Sometimes, your doctor may recommend wearing a patch over the eye with strong vision to stimulate the weaker eye. You will likely only be asked to wear the eyepatch for a few hours daily. 


Atropine drops can temporarily blur your vision, and your doctor may recommend using them for the same reasons as the eye patch. The blurriness in your stronger eye can help to stimulate the weaker eye. 


If the Amblyopia has progressed or caused a problem like cataracts, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention. 

A young girl with strabismus is doing her homework.

What Is Strabismus? 

Strabismus is a condition where both eyes do not look in the same place. It is commonly referred to as being crossed-eyed. People with poor eye muscle control or severe farsightedness are more likely to have or develop the condition. 

Strabismus is typically categorized based on the direction your eye turns

  1. Esotropia: Turns inwards
  2. Exotropia: Turns outwards 
  3. Hypertropia: Turns upwards
  4. Hypotropia Turns downwards

Symptoms of Strabismus 

Strabismus can be identified if your eyes are turning in abnormal directions, but several other symptoms may be present:

  • Experiencing headaches and eyestrain
  • A decrease in depth perception
  • Double vision
  • Your eyes don’t move together 
  • Frequent blinking or squinting 

If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to book an appointment with your eye doctor and let them know. 

Treatments for Strabismus

Fortunately, several treatment methods can be used to help correct strabismus. Here are a few of the common options:


Sometimes, eyeglasses or contact lenses are the only solutions needed for people with strabismus. Prescription lenses can help correct vision issues like farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. 

Prism Lenses

Prism lenses are a thicker type of lens that helps to direct light and prevent the eye from turning when it wants to observe an object. 

Vision Therapy 

Your doctor may assign different forms of vision therapy or muscle exercises to help build strength in the weaker eye. These exercises can help the brain and eye learn to work together more efficiently. 

Eye Muscle Surgery 

If the above treatments don’t work, or your doctor is worried about your eye condition, they may recommend eye muscle surgery. Surgery can be done to change the length of the muscles within the eye and help prevent it from turning. 

Book an Appointment Today 

If you are experiencing any symptoms of Amblyopia or Strabismus, book an appointment at Hercules Optometric Group to speak with one of our compassionate and experienced doctors. 

We are happy to offer you a comprehensive eye examination and more information on your eye health.

Written by Total Vision

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