Amblyopia is an important public health problem because the visual impairment is lifelong.

Prevalence estimates range from 2% to 3% depending on the population studied and the definition used. Unilateral amblyopia is associated with strabismus in 50% of cases and with anisometropia (a difference of refractive error between the two eyes) in a somewhat smaller percentage of cases. In general, approximately 50% of patients with convergent strabismus have amblyopia at the time of initial diagnosis, but evoked cortical potential studies in infants indicate a higher prevalence.Amblyopia is more than four times as common in infants who are premature, small for gestational dates, or who have a first-degree relative with amblyopia. It is likely that population-based studies under-represent infants with developmental delay; the prevalence of amblyopia in this population is six-fold greater than in healthy, full-term infants. Environmental factors including smoking and drug or alcohol use during pregnancy have been associated with increased risk for amblyopia or strabismus. In the United States, amblyopia and strabismus account for over 1.2 million annual office visits for medical eye care.

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