Eye Conditions & Treatment Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

Strabismus is a medical condition in which one or both of your eyes point in different directions.  It is a deviation or misalignment of the eyes.  Types of strabismus include: Esotropia (inward turning eye), Exotropia(outward turning eye), Hypertropia(upward pointed eye), and Hypotropia (downward pointed eye).  The turning of the eye can be constant or it may only be present some of the time (intermittent).

Causes of Strabismus

Strabismus is usually caused by poor muscle control, a lack of coordination, of the eyes.  In children the cause of strabismus is unknown, but has been shown to run in families.  It very frequently occurs in children with neurological problems.  It most often appears before two years of age, but may develop as late as age six.  Children do not outgrow strabismus, and without treatment the condition may get worse.  Strabismus should be evaluated and treated.

In adults, causes of strabismus include injury to an eye muscle or the nerves controlling those muscles; head trauma; diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure; loss of vision; an eye or brain tumor; Graves’ disease, stroke, or other muscle and nerve disorders.

If detected and treated early, strabismus can often be corrected with excellent results.

Symptoms of Strabismus

  • Double vision
  • Eyes that point in different directions
  • Head tilt
  • Head turn

Treating strabismus

Children with strabismus must be identified and treated at a young age in order to prevent permanent vision problems.  It is recommended that children have a comprehensive eye examination before six months of age.

When the eyes fail to focus on the same image, due to a strabismus two separate images or received.  The brain cannot process two separate images at one time, and so it learns to ignore the input from one eye.  If this is allowed to continue, the eye that the brain ignores does not develop normal vision and will never see well.  This condition is known as Amblyopia (Lazy Eye).

Treatment options depend upon the type of strabismus and may include glasses, patching therapy, prism lenses and/or muscle surgery.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is a medical condition of the eyes in which there is a lack of development of vision in one or both eyes.  It can result from a large amount of nearsightedness, a large amount of farsightedness, a large difference in the amount of refractive correction between the two eyes, or from strabismus. Amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss if it is not treated.

Treating Amblyopia

Treatment options include a combination of spectacles, patching therapy, and occasionally medicated eye drops.  The patching and eye drops stimulate the brain to pay attention and use the eye that has lost vision, while the spectacles make the image as clear as possible.

Amblyopia generally must be treated by the age of nine in order to be effective.  Although treatment can still produce improved visual results after age nine, it is much more limited, since the visual system between the eyes and brain has already completed most of its development by then.

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