Strabismus is a visual disorder in which both eyes are misaligned and are unable to point or look in the same direction.
The muscles in each eye normally work together in order for both eyes to move in the same direction simultaneously. Strabismus occurs when the eye muscles are no longer able to properly control eye movements. In such cases, the eyes become misaligned and the brain may not be able to merge what one eye sees with what the other eye sees, resulting in symptoms such as double vision.
The term “cross-eye” (esotropia) is commonly used when broadly referring to strabismus. Esotropia occurs when one eye is looking straight ahead at an object, while the other eye is turned inward.
However, the disorder also includes instances where the other eye is turned outward (exotropia), downward (hypotropia) or upward (hypertropia).
In children, strabismus often results from conditions that are not inherently related to the eyes. Strabismus can be seen with children who have Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, head injuries or other problems.
Causes of strabismus in adults may be the result of eye injury, tumours, thyroid disease, stroke, and various brain, nerve and muscle disorders.
Further to the misalignment of both eyes, the most notable symptom is double vision.
Children are susceptible to having the brain adapt to ignoring one eye to avoid double vision. This can result in more complicated vision disorders such as amblyopia if left untreated.
In contrast, for adult cases of strabismus, the brain is already accustomed to recognizing vision from both eyes. As a result, double vision becomes permanent and often intolerable in these cases.
Strabismus can easily be diagnosed by observing the alignment and movement of the eyes. However, proper treatment methods should be advised by a physician. It is recommended that you consult your eye doctor if you have any concerns about your eyes or vision.
For children, treatment of strabismus should begin with the prescription of eye glasses and exercises/therapies (such as eye patch treatment).
More severe cases of strabismus may require surgery to properly align the affected eye. Many individuals experience a significant improvement in eye alignment with one surgery. In most cases, surgery is a successful, safe, and effective treatment of strabismus for individuals of all ages.
Vision therapy is a non-surgical method of addressing many eye issues, including alignment problems (such as strabismus). Vision therapy is effective for both children and adults, though it is markedly more effective on kids due to their younger and more adaptable minds.