Strabismus, also called a crossed eye, is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned. Eye position is controlled by six muscles, called extraocular muscles, which surround the eye. Strabismus is most often caused by one or more of these muscles pulling either too hard or not hard enough. While one eye gazes straight ahead, the other may point inward, outward, up or down. Strabismus is commonly congenital, or develops in young children, though it may develop in adulthood as well. It is often hereditary.
Strabismus is often visually evident by the misalignment of the eyes and is sometimes noticed by a parent before being diagnosed by a physician. Some types, however, are very difficult to identify. There are also cases of pseudo strabismus, in which an infant or toddler appears to have inwardly-crossing eyes, but is actually exhibiting incomplete facial development; this requires no treatment, and remedies itself with further growth. If strabismus goes untreated in children, it often develops into amblyopia (lazy eye), in which the brain ignores images coming from the weak eye, rendering a person effectively blind in one eye. For this reason, all children should be checked by a physician for strabismus by age three or four. Children with a family history of the condition should be examined even earlier.
symptoms may include:
- Eye pointing in different directions
- Weakened depth perception
- Blurred vision
- Double vision – particularly in adults
Corrective lenses are a common initial treatment and sometimes glasses alone will be effective. However, surgery is sometimes necessary to correct strabismus. Surgery involves adjusting the extraocular muscles in one or both eyes so that the eyes point in the same direction. Strabismus surgery is generally a safe and common procedure, and when indicated is the only way to effectively treat the disorder.
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Strabismus is an incongruence of the eyes. Strabismus is commonly seen as an eye that turns in or out or up. If the patient is young they may not experience double vision but if the patient is older they will likely experience double vision.
There are a variety of causes. Some children are born with strabismus. Some adults develop it gradually without any underlying problem. Others develop strabismus because of dangerous underlying problems including stroke.
Some strabismus is treated with glasses while some cases are so severe that the only treatment option is surgical. It is very important that children with strabismus are seen by a qualified eye specialist to avoid potential vision threatening and even life threatening disorders.