Amblyopia in Olympia

Dr. Levi Zurcher cartoon

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American Family Vision Clinic

What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia is a condition commonly referred to as a “lazy eye”. It occurs when there is a lack of coordination between both eyes. Each eye is receiving its own picture that does not align with the other so in order to compensate, the brain ignores or suppresses the image from one of the eyes. This causes a phenomenon where only one eye can reach 20/20 vision, leaving the other suppressed eye with less clear vision which results in amblyopia.
Amblyopia is quite noticeable when it is caused by one eye wandering in and out, however there are other causes that are more challenging for a parent to detect. If you think your child might have a lazy eye, please Book an Appointment and Dr. Zurcher who will be happy to check if your child has amblyopia and through vision therapy, both eyes can start working together again in an optimal manner.


There are various causes of amblyopia, such as:
  • One eye wanders in and out - this is the most common type of amblyopia and is the most noticeable
  • High power prescription in both eyes
  • One eye has a higher power prescription than the other


The good news is that vision therapy can help tremendously in cases of amblyopia. There are two main goals when trying to work with a patient with amblyopia:

  1. The first step is to make sure that the patient has the most appropriate prescription for the required optical correction. This avoids any refractive error and ensures the proper alignment.
  2. Various vision therapy methods are employed to train the eyes to work together properly, allowing the brain to be able to interpret the images from both eyes and form one clear image instead of suppressing one eye.

In the past it was thought that the best way to treat amblyopia is by using patching, which means closing the stronger eye in order to force the brain to learn how to properly use the weaker eye. The hope is that once the patch is removed, the brain will know how to use both eyes together properly. We still use patching but we assist this method by adding some stepping stones which help transition from using vision with one eye, known as monocular vision, to gradually using binocular vision, when the patch is removed and both eyes are working together. It’s been verified that this coupled with patching is much more effective.

Common Questions

Neuroplasticity is the phenomenon that the brain can adapt to new changes and can be trained to accomplish new tasks. This bears significance to learning a new skill, memory, healthy development and brain damage recovery. This concept applies to amblyopia and to vision therapy in general, as the purpose is to train the brain to learn how to interpret the signals from our eyes in the most effective way possible, enabling both eyes to work together as efficiently as can be without the brain reacting by filtering out the signals from one eye.
It used to be thought that we could only train the brain using the concept of neuroplasticity only up until age eight. We now know that neuroplasticity applies well into adulthood which enables us to successfully achieve goals through vision therapy in older children, teenagers and even in adults. It is true that the effectiveness is often lower in adults than it is in children, however neuroplasticity still allows us to achieve great improvement in the overall function of adults which can greatly improve their lifestyle. For example, sometimes with adults the goal is not to reach 20/20 vision, but rather to strengthen peripheral perception so that when driving, the adult can be more aware of the surroundings, more comfortable with the cars around you, allowing for safe driving. The goal of vision therapy for adults could have more of a focus on day to day functionality as opposed to visual acuity on the eye chart.
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Amblyopia is a condition where both eyes are not working together as strongly as possible, causing the brain to ignore the image being received from the weaker eye. Thankfully, there are great methods using vision therapy and eye patching to train the brain to work with both eyes together to form one clear image and optimizing the visual signals from both eyes. Patients with functional vision issues visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of functional vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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