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What causes Strabismus and how can it be treated?

July 15, 2015

While holding or playing with your child, you notice that something is not quite right with the movement of his/her eyes.  Maybe one is looking in one direction and the other is off by a bit.  Or maybe you notice that when your child looks back and forth the eyes are not moving in coordination with each other.  What is this crossing of the eyes and how serious is it?  The first thing you should do is set up an appointment with your child’s pediatrician who will most likely do an eye exam and (depending upon the age of the child) recommend a visit to an ophthalmologist.  In the end the diagnosis could be strabismus.

What is strabismus?

Crossing of the eyes, or strabismus as it is medically termed, is a condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time. It occurs when an eye turns in, out, up or down and is usually caused by poor eye muscle control or a high amount of farsightedness. The disorder is very common in children, affecting four percent of children age 6 and younger. It does tend to run in families.  It is normal for children under 6 months of age to experience occasional crossed eyes because their brains are still developing the ability to see normally.  They will likely grow out of it. However in the case your child is being monitored for this and the symptoms do not disappear there are treatments available.

Treatment for Strabismus

Common treatments for these and other kinds of strabismus include special eye drops, eye patches, appropriate eyewear, vision therapy, and—in extreme cases—surgery. Most of the time, strabismus can be fixed if caught early enough and treated appropriately.

  • Eyewear – his method may help people who have crossed eyes due to an uncorrected farsightedness
  • Eye patches are commonly used to cover the stronger eye to build up the muscles in the weaker eye.  Eye drops to blur the vision of the stronger eye can also be used to get the same results.
  • Surgery – Eye muscle surgery may be needed if the eyes still do not move correctly. Different muscles in the eye will be made stronger or weaker.