Strabismus is an eye condition in which the eyes are not aligned properly. One or both eyes may turn in (cross-eye), out (walleye), up (hypertropia) or down (hypotropia). This eye turn may be permanent, or it may be intermittent.
According to Asian Eye Institute pediatric ophthalmologist, adult strabismus and cataract specialist Dr. Norman Fajardo, strabismus is usually associated with a defective nerve system and eye muscle coordination.
“Each eye has six external muscles that control the eye position and movement. These muscles must work together so both eyes can focus on a single target.
“Each eye sees from a slightly different angle, which means there are two different images that are sent to the brain. The brain then merges these images into one. When a person has strabismus, the eyes don’t work together and results in double vision. Because of this, the young brain suppresses the image from one eye, leading to a serious eye condition called amblyopia or lazy eye,” Fajardo explains.
Genetics may play a role in the development of strabismus.
Fajardo says: “This means if you have it, your family members are at greater risk of suffering from this condition. Although it can develop in adults, it is more common among children, especially those with disorders that may affect the brain, like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and prematurity. In some cases, it may be caused by severe farsightedness, cataracts or an eye injury.”
There are now several treatment options to improve alignment of the eye and restore binocular vision. Depending on the cause and extent of their condition, patients may be prescribed to wear eyeglasses, use prism lenses, undergo orthoptics exercises or have eye muscle surgery. Often, those who’ve had surgery may need orthoptics exercises.
“Early detection and treatment of strabismus is essential for full visual development,” shares Fajardo. “An eye exam with a pediatric ophthalmologist or pediatric optometrist may be done at least once a year. We urge parents to get their children’s eyes checked if they notice their children who struggle in school may be having difficulties because of an undiagnosed eye problem.” Children with strabismus will not simply outgrow the condition.