Amblyopia vs Strabismus?

What is the difference between Amblyopia and Strabismus?


Very simply, Strabismus, the medical term for "crossed-eye", is a problem with eye alignment, in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time. Amblyopia, the medical term for "lazy-eye", is a problem with visual acuity, or eyesight. Many people make the mistake of saying that a person who has a crossed or turned eye (strabismus) has a "lazy-eye," but lazy-eye (amblyopia) and strabismus are not the same condition. 

Both strabismus and amblyopia are treatable conditions by patching, and vision therapy

Strabismus is the most common cause of amblyopia and amblyopia often occurs along with strabismus. However, amblyopia can occur without strabismus. But, there's more to it than this. Let's take a look at these vision disorders side-by-side.

Strabismus Amblyopia
Also known as Crossed-eyes, Squint, wandering eye, deviating eye, walleye Lazy-eye
Definition Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not point at the same place at the same time. One or both eyes turn inward (esotropia), outward (exotropia), upward (hypertropia), or downward (hypotropia) eithr some (intermittent) or all of the time.

Amblyopia is the lack of development of clear vision (acuity) in one or both eyes for reasons other than an eye health problem that cannot be improved with glasses alone.




The obvious symptom of strabismus is an observable eye turn.

Patients with constant strabismus tend to be less symptomatic (but not asymptomatic) when compared to patients with intermittent strabismus. That’s because they often suppress the information from the eye that is turning, thus avoiding double vision and other symptoms. 

Patients with intermittent strabismus may experience more frequent symptoms. These include:

  • Poor depth perception
  • Eye strain and/or pain
  • Headaches
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Eye and/or general fatigue

Patients with strabismus may report:

  • difficulty driving,
  • difficulty reading,
  • difficulty with sports activities,
  • feeling clumsier than their peers. 

Unlike strabismus, which is generally easy to spot, you can’t detect amblyopia with simple observation, as there are no visible signs.

Typical symptoms include:

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

A clue that your child may have amblyopia is if he or she cries or fusses when you cover one eye.


Treatment for strabismus may include eyeglasses, prisms, vision therapy, or eye muscle surgery. If detected and treated early, strabismus can often be corrected with excellent results.


Treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye) may include a combination of prescription lenses, prisms, vision therapy and eye patching.