What is Strabismus?
Strabismus is a condition where the eyes fail to align and focus on an object together. One of the eyes looks straight at the object and the other looks either inward, outward, upward or downward. Strabismus is often referred to as “cross-eyed”.
How does it Affect Vision?
The condition can affect one eye or switch between eyes. It can be constant or come and go when the person is tired. The misalignment in the eyes causes double vision (seeing two images, one from each eye), or reduced vision in one eye. If the strabismus occurs in early childhood, the brain gets use to the double vision and ignores the signal from the misaligned eye causing amblyopia or ‘lazy eye’. The straight eye is then favored for vision.
Causes and Risk Factors of Strabismus?
There are six extra-ocular muscles that perfectly align each eye and control its movement. If one of these nerves are damaged or restrained, then the muscle will not function properly.
Another common cause of strabismus is if a child has extreme farsightedness in one eye relative to the other, they need to put extra effort to focus on things nearby. The farsighted eye then turns inwards in order to prevent double vision. This is known as accommodative esotropia and if left untreated, can cause severe amblyopia.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of this Condition?
The very apparent misalignment between the eyes is the biggest indicator of this condition. It can either be a very large angle deviation or a small angle misalignment, which is not so noticeable.
Either may cause headaches, eyestrain, diplopia (double vision), or amblyopia.
What are the Possible Treatments?
Vision Therapy, corrective surgery, and glasses are treatment options depending on the type and severity of the strabismus. Whatever the case, treatment should be done as early as possible for normal growth of the eye. Although adults can be treated as well, the chance of normal development of the eye is higher for early treatment in children.