Scientific studies on lazy eye

Published on
January 5, 2023

Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, affects approximately 2-3% of American children. It is the leading cause of vision loss in children in one eye. Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a condition in which both eyes do not work together with the brain, therefore the vision in the weaker eye is suppressed by the brain and only the stronger eye achieves clear vision.

The Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) is a group that is funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) responsible for performing really important research on amblyopia.

Appropriate optical correction for lazy eye

Among the most important studies they conduct is the amblyopia treatment study (ATS). A few important conclusions were drawn from that study.

First, it is important to ensure the child is receiving the appropriate type of optical correction. This means our eye doctor will prescribe the most appropriate glasses prescription for the child and they should wear them for approximately six to eight weeks, and then return to the office for a follow-up exam. At that time, our eye doctor will be able to determine if the glasses alone were sufficient to treat the lazy eye, or if the child needs additional treatment.

How long should a child wear a patch for lazy eye? 

Another treatment they researched was patching. It was determined through the studies that for children who had a moderate amount of amblyopia, patching two hours a day while performing near tasks was just as effective as them wearing a patch for six hours a day.

In children with severe amblyopia, patching six hours a day was determined to be just as effective as patching for the entire day. In these children, the researchers also saw significant improvement even with just two hours of patching a day.

Atropine drops for amblyopia

Atropine drops were found to be as effective as 2 and 6 hours of patching in cases of moderate and severe amblyopia. This makes it an excellent first line treatment or an alternative to patching.

They also found that atropine drops do not have to be administered everyday, two times per week is also effective. 

Atropine drops were found to be effective at treating moderate and severe amblyopia when administered on weekends.

Are there studies showing the efficacy of Vision Therapy for the treatment of Lazy Eye? 

There are multiple studies that show the efficacy of in office vision therapy as part of the treatment of amblyopia (lazy eye). In office therapy is especially effective when combined with some form of occlusion such as patching or atropine. Rationale for refractive correction, occlusion and active vision therapy for amblyopia treatment. J Behavioral Optom. 1995;6(1):14, 18-19, demonstrated that vision therapy is more effective than occlusion (patching or atropine) alone. 

The following studies showed that the focus of vision therapy on the binocular vision system (not just reconnecting the brain to the visual information from the amblyopic eye) improved the patient's overall vision and prevented regression after treatment for lazy eye. 

  • Rouse MW, Cooper JS, Cotter SA, et al. Optometric clinical practice guideline: care of the patient with amblyopia. American Optometric Association. 1994. 
  • Wick B, Wingard M, Cotter S, Scheiman M. Anisometropic amblyopia: is the patient ever too old to treat? Optom Vis Sci. 1992;69(11):866-78.
  • Frantz KA. Rationale for refractive correction, occlusion and active vision therapy for amblyopia treatment. J Behavioral Optom. 1995;6(1):14, 18-19.
  • Fitzgerald DE, Krumholtz I. Maintenance of improvement gains in refractive amblyopia: a comparison of treatment modalities. Optometry. 2002;73(3):153-9.

Schedule a pediatric eye exam for your child in Chattanooga, TN

Please schedule a pediatric eye exam with Dr. McBryar if you suspect your child has amblyopia. To schedule an appointment, please call (423) 710 3965. Patients who need a pediatric eye exam visit our clinic from all over Tennessee, and we are proud to be a leading provider of pediatric vision services for patients from Hixson, Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Middle Valley.

Under the guidance of Dr. Heather McBryar FCOVD, we are a leading provider of lazy eye treatment for children and adults in Chattanooga. 


Vision therapy is well worth the response, time and effort. Our Son had a hard time focusing and writing neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time if previously took. His abilities to focus improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

Also, he was better at listening. As a parent, we wanted learning to be fun for our Son, and vision therapy made this possible.

Amanda T.

Vision Therapy is well worth the expense, time and effort. Our son had a hard time focusing handwriting neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time it previously took his abilities to focus and improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

Also, he was better at listening. As a parent you wanted learning to be fun for our son and vision therapy made this possible.

Alexa H.

Vision Therapy has given or son the tools he needs to be able to scan and read the written word more effectively and efficiently.

He love working with John and these working sessions give him the motivation to gladly work on his homework assignments.

It amazed us to see the difference in the tracking of his eyes and along a line of it's from the beginning to the end of the treatment.

Dr. McBryar , Kristen and John  are all marvelous and we would recommend them to anyone I only wish that we would have found them sooner!

Charlotte M.

Prior to coming to the institute for vision development my son complained of daily headaches. Therapy has eliminated his headaches completely. I love knowing my son is able to learn pain-free for the rest of his life because of the work that has been done over just a few weeks in this office. He he absolutely loved coming that didn't even feel like going to a doctor or therapy. We are grateful for the relief he was able to find by coming here.

Thank you!

Olivia C.

Seems much less frustrated with life

Reads non-stop and fast

Spelling abilities have been hugely improved

Seems much more confident

Thank You!!!

Kelly O.

When we first came to the practice, my son did not have huge issues, but lots of small ones- trouble with reading, sports (hitting the baseball consistently), coordination, etc- that were not easily detectable,but when put together presented issues. The staff here were all very professional and loving towards him. While I was concerned in the reading, my son was concerned with the athletic side. Seeing improvement night off the bat gave him confidence that i have nor seen in him and made him want to not only Come to therapy, but also made him want to work hard. He has surpassed his grade level and above in reading and hit his first home run this year! Thank you!!!

Alice M.
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