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Four percent of children have ocular problems that can diminish vision on one or both eyes. The three most common types of problems that occur are strabismus (misaligned eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), and refractive errors (focusing problems).
Strabismus is a general term referring to eyes which are pointed in different directions. After four months of age, all infants should have straight eyes. One eye may drift in or out, up or down. A crossed eye is known as esotropia. Exotropia refers to eyes that are turned out. Strabismus may be present all of the time or intermittently. Children with strabismus are usually unaware of the problem. Strabismus interferes with the development of coordinated use of both eyes together.
Amblyopia, which is sometimes called "lazy eye," refers to the development of poor vision in one or both eyes. It occurs in infancy and early childhood during the sensitive period of visual development. The earlier amblyopia is detected, the easier it is to treat. When, during late childhood, this early period of visual development passes, visual loss due to amblyopia is no longer a substantial threat.