Adult & Child Strabismus
ADULT & CHILD STRABISMUS
Strabismus is also known as crossed eyes. This eye problem is a misalignment of the eyes which keeps both eyes from focusing on the same point at the same time. One eye may look straight ahead while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward. One of the eyes often has a shortened or elongated muscle that controls eye movement. Approximately 5% of all children have some type or degree of strabismus.
Strabismus, in which the misaligned eye turns in towards the nose is called esotropia (crossed eye).
Strabismus, in which the misaligned eye turns outward, away from the nose, is called exotropia (wandering eye).
In either case, the eye turn my be constant or happen only at times, such as when the individual is tired; it may be the same eye which always turns, or the left and right eyes may turn alternately. The eye may turn only when looking at objects close up, or it may turn when looking both near and far. The amount, or degree, of the eye turn may be so great that it is easily noticeable, or slight enough that family members may fail to recognize there is a problem.
Due to the fact that the brain has not learned to align the eyes and use them together, each eye points independently from each other. This means that both eyes do not point at the same place at the same time. When each eye is looking at a different place, the brain receives two different “pictures”. This would normally result in double vision but children’s brains learn to protect themselves from seeing double by suppressing, or “turning off” the crossed or wandering eye. This occurs because of the misalignment of the two eyes in relation to one another. This is referred to as suppression. Suppression essentially means that children with a crossed or wandering eye only see out of one eye at a time. If suppression is not detected by age 7, the visual pathway of the suppressed eye will not develop properly, resulting in permanent loss of vision of the suppressed eye.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF STRABISMUS?
It is normal for a newborn baby’s eyes to move independently and at times, even cross. However, by three to four months old, an infant should be able to focus on objects and the eyes should be straight, with no turning. If you notice that your child’s eyes are moving inward or outward, if he/she is not focusing on objects, and/or the eyes seem to be crossed, you should seek professional attention from a pediatric ophthalmologist. 30% to 50% of children with strabismus develop secondary vision loss, called amblyopia or commonly known as a lazy eye. The onset of strabismus is most common in children younger than 6 years of age. The symptoms of strabismus may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.
- Strabismus may be treated in one or more of the following methods:
- Eye drops
- Surgery to straighten the eyes
- Eye exercise
- Eye patch over the strong eye to strengthen and improve the vision of the weak eye