What is Strabismus and How Can My Optometrist Treat It?

What is Strabismus and How Can My Optometrist Treat It?

More commonly known as ‘crossed eyes’, strabismus is a condition where the eyes are not aligned with one another. Hearing your child may have strabismus can feel quite worrisome, and although not a common ailment, many parents are happy to hear that this condition is very treatable.

There are many known causes and symptoms that your eye doctor will work with you to identify. Once the diagnosis has been determined, there are numerous treatment options available that can be conducted at your local optometrist office. This article will cover those options available to you.

Crossed Eyes: Types, Causes and Treatment Options

Strabismus is a relatively uncommon but treatable condition that affects approximately 4% of people. Under normal circumstances, there are six muscles that control eye movement and regulate the eye position or ocular alignment. When strabismus is present it is due to deficiencies with the way these muscles and nerves operate.

There are two main types of strabismus:  

Accommodative Esotropia: typically caused by uncorrected farsightedness and genetics. The onset of this type of strabismus is usually in the early years of life and causes the eyes to turn inward when attempting to focus on distant objects.

Intermittent Exotropia: this type of strabismus is when one eye is focused in one direction while the other is pointed in another, also known as a “lazy eye”. This can develop at any stage of life and as the name suggests, can be intermittent, meaning the symptoms may come and go. Patients are often not aware of this condition until someone else notices it.

The leading cause of strabismus in adults is stroke, while the leading cause in infants is genetics. Some of the other causes include: 

  • Neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy 
  • Hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid in the brain) 
  • Grave’s disease 
  • Brain tumours 
  • Head injuries that have affected the nerves or muscles around the eye 

Strabismus can cause many unpleasant symptoms which may include difficulty focusing, blurred vision, headaches, double vision, eye strain, and fatigue. Thankfully, your optometrist has a variety of treatments available to navigate this condition.

  1. Contact lenses, eyeglasses, or prism lenses are typically used for patients with uncorrected vision problems. Sometimes when the vision problem is corrected, it can be easier for the eyes to focus which can correct their alignment as well. Prism lenses can help to better guide the light as it enters the eye and reduce the eye movement required to focus on objects. 
  2. Eye patches are a good option if amblyopia (lazy eye) has developed because of strabismus. This option will help to improve vision and focus while correcting the misalignment. 
  3. Medications are an option also. Some people can use BOTOX® injections to weaken the eye muscle that may be over activating. Certain ointments and eye drops can be prescribed and used as well.
  4. Eye exercises, also known as orthoptics, can help with some forms of exotropia strabismus. 
  5. Surgery is an option to change the length and alignment of the eye muscles causing the misalignment. This procedure is done under general anesthesia and dissolvable sutures are used for minimal downtime.  

Discuss Your Concerns With Your Eye Doctor 

Although strabismus can impact  vision and focus, it is highly treatable with the right plan and professional support. The best way to prevent adverse effects from vision irregularities is to have regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams with your local Calgary optometrist who will screen for and treat any ocular conditions they may detect. The professional staff  at Blink Eyewear is your trusted and experienced team, capable of providing excellent optometry care to Calgarians of all ages. With three locations in Calgary, Crowfoot and Creekside in the NW, and West Springs in the SW to serve you and your family, call or fill out the form below to book your appointment.


Q: Is strabismus a permanent condition?
A: When strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes, is detected and treated early, excellents results can be achieved. Later onset of strabismus can also be reversed with the proper vision correction and optometry treatments. If neglected or left untreated, strabismus can create vision impairments or more serious underlying causes could be missed.

Q: Is treatment for cross eyes painful?
A: All the optometry treatment options listed above, including surgery, are painless and minimally invasive procedures. Your eye doctor will use an anesthetic to ensure you are very comfortable should you go the surgery route.

Q: Can a concussion cause you to have crossed eyes?
A: While concussions can cause temporary vision impairment there would need to be a permanent physical damage to the eye for a concussion to cause cross eyes.

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Blink Eyewear boasts the largest collection of eyewear in Calgary, but our 3 locations are also home to the region’s finest optometrists. Just as you will not find a better store to shop for your eyewear, you will not find a better vision clinic to do your eye exam or treat your eye condition. 

Go ahead and Blink; what you see is really what you get. Call one of our store numbers or fill out the form below to book an appointment.

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