Exercises such as dot-to-dot cards, coloring within lines, and a Brock string test may help strengthen the eyes. In some cases, eye patches and glasses can also help.
Lazy eye (amblyopia) is a condition in which a person’s brain focuses more on one eye than the other. This can affect their vision in the long term.
If a child shows signs of having a lazy eye, a parent or caregiver should take them to an eye doctor, such as an optometrist. An eye doctor can recommend the best eye exercises and other treatments.
This article looks at possible exercises and activities to try for lazy eye, as well as other treatment options.
This type of therapy aims to strengthen eye muscles and improve eye alignment. During the exercises, a doctor
The following activities may help improve lazy eyes:
Coloring within the lines
Doctors, parents, and caregivers can encourage a child to use a coloring book. This exercise is typically easy to implement since many children enjoy coloring.
To perform this exercise, parents or caregivers can:
- Choose a coloring book with simple pictures that have well-defined lines.
- Place an eye patch over the child’s stronger eye.
- Instruct them to carefully color the objects and stay within the lines.
- Make sure to supervise the child so that they do not remove the eye patch.
Binocular vision activities
Some additional exercises can be useful once the lazy eye has begun to improve. These involve binocular vision, which means the child will use both eyes together.
The goal of this exercise is for a person to maintain a single image of a dot on a card with both eyes. People may be able to create their own card by drawing dots on a rectangular card.
To use the dot card, a person can:
- Hold the card lengthwise and touch it to their nose so the line of dots is directly in front of their face.
- Tilt the card slightly down.
- Focus on the dot farthest away, which should be singular and not blurry. If the eyes are working together, the pattern of dots will appear in an “A” shape.
- Focus on the next dot in the line.
- Hold each dot in focus for a count of five. If the eyes continue to work correctly, an “X” shape will form.
- When a person reaches the dot that is closest to them, the dots in the back will double and form a “V” shape.
A person can speak with a doctor for further guidance on using this test.
Pencil pushup treatment
During this exercise, a person slowly moves the pencil toward their nose and then away from their nose. The pencil must have letters or shapes on it that a person can focus on throughout the exercise.
The goal of this exercise is to maintain single and clear vision for the duration. No patch is necessary.
To perform the exercise, a person can:
- Hold the pencil in front of themselves, or in front of a child who has a lazy eye, at arm’s length. Focus on the visible words or shapes on the pencil.
- Slowly move the pencil as close to the nose as possible without it becoming blurry or doubled.
- Once the pencil becomes blurry, move it away from the nose.
- Repeat the exercise according to a doctor’s instructions.
Brock string exercise
Frederick Brock, a Swiss optometrist, developed this exercise to help the eyes learn how to work together.
A person can either use a Brock string or make their own. A Brock string is a white string that is about 15 feet long and has colorful wooden beads on it that are moveable.
To perform the Brock string exercise, a person can:
- Secure the end of a long string to a doorknob or another stationary object.
- Hold the other end of the string under their nose.
- Place a small bead on the string.
- While keeping both eyes open, focus on the bead. A person should see two strings in the shape of an “X” with the bead in the middle. If a person sees two beads and two strings, their eyes are not converging at the bead.
Once the lazy eye has gained some strength, people may try additional activities, such as the following:
Completing jigsaw puzzle activities while wearing an eye patch may help strengthen the weaker eye. People should choose puzzles with appropriate difficulty levels for their or their child’s age and skills.
If they can read, a child or adult can try reading an age-appropriate book while wearing a patch over the stronger eye.
Performing word activities while wearing a patch over the stronger eye helps focus the eye’s attention. These activities may be better suited for adults, but some may also be suitable for children, such as:
- word puzzles
Handheld video games
Some video games are designed for people with lazy eyes to play while wearing goggles. People play these games “dichoptically,” which means that each eye views something different through the goggles, such as high or low contrast images.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), it generlly takes several weeks to months to strengthen vision in the weaker eye. In some cases, a child may need to wear an eye patch some of the time for a few years.
For some people, an ophthalmologist may recommend surgery to correct certain eye conditions that may cause amblyopia, such as cataracts.
Overall, the AAO recommends making vision stronger in the weaker eye. Even if people use glasses or surgery to address the eye conditions that are causing amblyopia, they must also treat amblyopia itself since it may have long-term effects on their vision.
More recent findings from the AAO suggest using a virtual reality headset to help improve vision in children ages 4–7 years. Watching videos while wearing the headset can help a child use their weaker eye.
However, more research needs to explore the benefits of this approach across larger samples and determine whether it is more effective than eye drops or patching.
The AAO suggests that a parent or caregiver should consult a doctor if they notice that a child’s eye wanders after the first few weeks of life or after the child has received treatment and performed eye exercises.
Regular appointments with an eye doctor are important if a person has a family history of eye conditions.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that exercises such as dot-to-dot cards, coloring within lines, and Brock string tests may improve binocular vision in people with lazy eyes. Patching, using eye drops, and performing exercises while wearing a patch can improve symptoms.
The main treatments that doctors recommend are eye patches, glasses, and eye drops. Experts may also recommend that people have surgery to address conditions that may cause a lazy eye, such as cataracts.