When visiting an eye doctor for an exam, they may diagnose you with strabismus. This unique condition can affect your vision and self-confidence and may require treatment. Here’s some information about strabismus so you can prepare for the appointment if you’re concerned.
What to Know About Strabismus
What is it?
Strabismus occurs when the eyes don’t work in tandem occasionally or all the time. Those who have the condition may look one way with one eye and slightly off with the other. Inward misalignment is esotropia or cross-eyes, while outward misalignment is exotropia or wall-eyes. Individuals who look up have hypertropia and people who look downward have hypotropia. Those with strabismus may have one “lazy eye” as their brain tries to cope with misalignment by only trusting one eye to avoid seeing double.
What causes the condition?
Individuals who have strabismus often have parents or siblings with the condition. Those who are very farsighted and struggle to see things up close have a higher likelihood of developing strabismus. Their eyes often work harder to focus, potentially increasing the risk of misalignment. Additionally, people who have had head injuries, a stroke, or have Graves’ disease, nerve disorders, down syndrome, or cerebral palsy are more likely to have strabismus.
What are the treatment options?
Eye doctors assess this condition based on whether it is constant, the same eye always struggles to stay aligned, or if the issue changes from one eye to the other. Surgery to realign the eye is often the best solution, especially in young children. This procedure or series of operations detaches the eye muscles from the eye and places them in correct alignment to promote binocular or two-eyed vision. Infants usually benefit from this surgery as those who receive early treatment often recover quickly.
Eye doctors may choose non-surgical treatment options for less severe cases. Some kids can benefit from regularly attending vision therapy sessions with an eye doctor to strengthen the weak optical muscles. Other people wear glasses like bifocals if they have strabismus that changes from one eye to the other. Those with the condition often use a combination of surgery, vision corrective aids, and eye exercise to treat their symptoms.
How is strabismus diagnosed?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends taking children between age 3 and 3.5 for their first eye exam. Eye doctors will look for symptoms of strabismus, such as misaligned eyes. They’ll also ask the family about abnormalities that may have occurred outside of the office, such as occasional cross-eyed behavior. Failing a vision screening at any age may be the first step to diagnosing strabismus.
Those concerned about strabismus should contact the vision care team at Northern Lights Eye Care in Anchorage, AK. The eye doctors and staff offer exams, eyeglass fittings, and treatment for people of all ages. Call (907) 276-3937 to schedule an appointment or visit the website for more information on their services.