Strabismus is a condition where both eyes do not work in unison to look at the same place at the same time. Although it usually develops in infancy or early childhood, typically by the age of 3, adults and children have the potential to develop strabismus later in life.
The misalignment of your eyes results in your brain receiving two different images, which is very confusing for your brain. This will ultimately force it to focus on the images it is receiving from one eye and ignore images from your other eye.
If strabismus is left untreated, the ignored and underused eye will develop poorly and will eventually experience complete vision loss. This condition is known as Amblyopia1,or lazy eye.
If you have strabismus, it will be classified according to the direction of your eye turn.
Strabismus can be the result of problems with the nerves that transmit information from your brain to the eye muscles, the control center in your brain that directs eye movement, or issues with the eye muscles themselves.
There are 6 muscles attached to each eye that directly control how your eye moves. These muscles receive signals from your brain to coordinate their movements. For most of us, these muscles work together to ensure they point at the same place- allowing our brain to receive matching images. In someone with strabismus, these muscles will not be working in unison and result in the relaying of two separate images to the brain.
Proper eye alignment is necessary for good depth perception, avoiding seeing double, and for preventing the development of poor vision.
If you or your child have strabismus, the symptoms may present as:
Because strabismus typically presents in early childhood, the initial method of treatment is prescription eyeglasses2.
The severity and frequency of your child’s strabismus will determine if vision therapy is required in conjunction with eyeglasses. Vision therapy is a structured program of visual activities to improve eye coordination and ability to focus. An eye patch is used to train the eyes and brain to work together effectively. The stronger eye is covered by the eye patch, forcing the brain to use the poorly developed eye and bring it up to matching functionality.
For cases where there is a constant eye turn, eye muscle surgery may be required to change the length or position of muscles around the eye so that they appear straight. Vision therapy is typically required after eye muscle surgery to improve eye coordination and maintain alignment.