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Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

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What is Strabismus?

Commonly referred to as crossed-eyes, strabismus is an eye condition where the eyes do not work together to focus on the same object.

Strabismus is the result of the 6 muscles around your eye not working in unison. The result is 2 different images being relayed to your brain from each eye. As you can imagine, this is incredibly confusing for your brain. Ultimately, it chooses to focus on and process the images from only one of the eyes.

TThe eye ignored by your brain will weaken considerably over time, leading to decreased vision that eye. This can only be prevented by early detection and treatment (via regular eye exams).

Strabismus is classified by the direction the eye turns:

  • Hypertropia – Upward turning
  • Hypotropia – Downward turning
  • Esotropia – Inward turning
  • Exotropia – Outward turning

Who Can Develop Strabismus?

Most cases of strabismus occur in early childhood, for both girls and boys.

Potential causes for developing strabismus in adulthood include:

  • Physical trauma to the head
  • Traumatic eye injury
  • Thyroid eye disease
  • Stroke
  • Tumor

What Are the Symptoms of Strabismus?

Proper eye alignment is important for having good depth perception, avoiding seeing double, and to prevent loss of vision in the misaligned eye.

Strabismus can present its symptoms occasionally or consistently. Common symptoms include:

  • Double vision
  • Eye movements that are uncoordinated and completely separate of each other
  • Eyes that are not looking in the same direction
  • Headaches
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye strain

One eye may look straight ahead while the other eye turns inward, up, down, or outward. An eye turn may be consistent, or come and go.

How is Strabismus Treated?

  • Eyeglasses – For strabismus cases that occur early in childhood, the first treatment prescribed is typically prescription eyewear. The severity and frequency of the affected child’s strabismus will dictate if vision therapy is also required.
  • Vision Therapy – A non-invasive treatment method for strabismus. Primarily, an eye patch is used to retrain the weakened ocular muscles. The brain is forced to use the weaker eye, building the strength of the muscles up until they match the strong eye.
  • Eye Muscle Surgery – Patients with a severe case of strabismus may be candidates for corrective surgery.