FRIDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Children younger than age 3 who have blocked tear ducts are at greater risk for amblyopia, or "lazy eye" -- a condition that could result in permanent vision loss if not treated early enough, researchers have found.

The authors of the new study pointed out that the findings support the need for early comprehensive eye examinations. The research was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the AAPOS, the official publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

After examining 375 children with blocked tear ducts, the investigators found that 22 percent of them had risk factors for amblyopia -- eight times higher than the general population. Of these kids, 63 percent developed amblyopia and required treatment for the condition, which may include glasses and eye patching.

The researchers said that all the children who required patching had amblyopia in the eye with the blocked tear duct.

"This is strong evidence that the association of amblyopia and tear duct obstruction is more than coincidental," Dr. David G. Hunter, the journal's editor-in-chief and ophthalmologist-in-chief at Children's Hospital Boston, said in a journal news release.

The authors concluded that all children with blocked tear ducts should undergo comprehensive eye examinations and be closely monitored if they have risk factors for amblyopia.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on amblyopia.