Strabismus: Misalignment of the Eyes

Your eyes have 6 muscles attached to the outside of them which controls their movement. When one or more of the muscles is undeveloped or doesn’t work in harmony with the others, vision problems occur. Strabismus, or crossed eyes, is a misalignment of the eyes. It affects children more often than adults, although adults sometimes develop the condition.

Strabismus needs to be treated as soon as possible as it can result in permanent vision impairment if not dealt with. The condition is often corrected by strengthening the weaker eye either through eye muscle surgery or vision therapy. Other treatment options include prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, prism lenses and botox injections.

When the eyes don’t work in harmony it can lead to headaches, double vision, poor depth perception, problems with peripheral vision and poor vision development in the weak eye. Untreated strabismus can lead to amblyopia, or lazy eye, which is commonly treated by wearing a patch over the stronger eye causing the muscles in the other eye to develop.

Other Names for Strabismus

There are a variety of names referring to the eyes inability to align with one another.

  1. Cross-eye
  2. Walleye
  3. Squint
  4. Heterotropia

Strabismus affects approximately 4% of children in the United States. Children born prematurely, with a low birth weight or a history of maternal smoking have a higher risk of developing crossed eyes.

Adult strabismus occurs from residual strabismus in childhood or a side effect of stroke or from a tumor. The cause of adult crossed eyes can’t always be determined.

Diagnosing the Condition

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Children should have their first eye exam by the time they are 6 months old or sooner if they have obvious signs of vision impairment. Bring your son or daughter to an eye care professional at MyEyeLab to diagnose and treat strabismus. The ophthalmologist, orthoptist or optometrist will do a comprehensive eye exam and come up with different treatment options for your child.

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