Strabismus, sometimes known as “crossed eyes,” is a visual condition in which the eyes are not accurately aligned? One eye may be constantly or periodically turned in, out, up, or down in relation to the other eye. This lack of eye teaming may also occur under certain conditions such as when a person is tired or inattentive, looks in a certain direction or at a specific distance. The eye turn may alternate between eyes.
Strabismus is caused by a lack of nerve-muscle coordination, neurological or mechanical causes. Strabismus may also occur due to an eye injury, head injury, or stroke. It could also be caused by excessive farsightedness. Strabismus tends to be hereditary, but there are many factors involved.
Strabismus tends to occur either shortly after birth, around age three, or shortly after children start school. Some strabismus develops later in life due to a problem that has existed for many years, for which a person can no longer compensate. Strabismus due to a stroke or injury can occur at any age.
Children almost never outgrow strabismus. It usually becomes more habitual over time and is frequently the cause of amblyopia (lazy eye) in which the vision in the deviated eye decreases due to lack of use. If left untreated, amblyopia may result in legal blindness of the affected eye.
Strabismus can initially cause double vision. To avoid double vision, the brain often disregards the image from one eye. This can result in permanent vision loss from amblyopia and impairs the function of stereopsis (binocular depth perception), which can affect sports performance, driving, and many other activities of daily living.
Strabismus can be easily missed. All children should have a comprehensive eye examination by Dr. Velasco at age six months, at age three, and before starting school. The earlier that strabismus is diagnosed, the greater likelihood of successful treatment.
Treatment of strabismus may include glasses, vision therapy, patching, and surgery. The specific treatment depends on the condition, its cause, its severity, and the age of the patient. Strabismus can often be corrected with excellent results if detected and treated early.