What is Strabismus?

Strabismus is a condition where an eye is turned inwards, outwards, upwards, or downwards. A person with strabismus is often referred to as having a "crossed-eye" (esotropia) or being "wall-eye" (exotropia). The appearance of the eye turn can be dramatic, often causing parental concern or it can be hardly noticeable.

Strabismus can interfere with visual performance leading to problems with general development. Left untreated, eye turns can lead to a loss of vision, affect school performance, reduce productivity at work, and impact career choices.

Although some individuals have no complaints at all, strabismus can cause a range of complaints, including:

  • □ double vision
  • □ decreased vision in one eye (lazy eye/amblyopia)
  • □ eye strain
  • □ decreased depth perception
  • □ unusual head postures

Because of the cosmetic appearance of a strabismus, it can affect a person’s self-esteem.

The most important aspect of strabismus is early identification and treatment. Because some eye turns are not noticeable, the American Optometric Association recommends all children have their first eye exam by 6 months of age (Pediatric Vision Care Service). This allows for identification of strabismus or risk factors that may lead to strabismus in the future.

Early identification leading to early treatment increases the possibility of a good outcome (Strabismus/Amblyopia Evaluation). Some types of strabismus can be treated with glasses alone while others require treatment beyond glasses. Treatment may include prisms, occlusion (patching), vision therapy, surgery, or a combination.

Vision therapy works by developing the brain’s ability to use both eyes simultaneously. Surgical treatment physically moves the muscles to new locations in an attempt to mechanically straighten the eye. Which treatment may be best for you or your child can be determined by your eye care provider after a thorough vision assessment.

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