Strabismus (crossed eyes)

What is strabismus?
Strabismus is misalignment of the eyes. One or both eyes can be turned in, out, up or down.

What causes strabismus?
Strabismus can be caused by problems with the eye muscle, the nerves that that send information to the eye muscles, or the area within the brain which controls eye movements. Individuals with parents or siblings with strabismus are at higher risk of developing strabismus. High amounts of uncorrected farsightedness can develop into strabismus. The eye’s focusing system is linked to the system controlling eye alignment. Excessive focusing in farsightedness can cause the eyes to turn inwards. It can also be caused by health conditions like Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and in the event of stroke or head injury.

Who is affected by strabismus?
Strabismuses usually develop from birth to 21 months, often before the age of 3. If a child older than 4 months eyes does not appear to be straight, it is recommended the child’s eyes be examined. It is estimated up to 5% of all children have some form of strabismus. It is not as common in adults, and usually the result of injury, stroke, tumor or from a vascular condition.

How is strabismus treated?
Strabismus can be treated with glasses (with bifocals if due to focusing issues), prisms, vision therapy, and in some more severe cases, eye muscle surgery will be required. A child cannot outgrow strabismus, and if not properly treated, can become worse over time.

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