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Home :: Eye Disease

Strabismus - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


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Strabismus, more commonly known as cross-eyed or wall-eyed , is a vision condition in which a person can not align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions. Strabismus can be either a disorder of the brain coordinating the eyes or a disorder of one or more muscles, as in any process that causes a dysfunction of the usual direction and power of the muscle or muscles. Different types of strabismus include crossed eyes, out-turned eyes, or vertical misalignment. The term is used to describe eyes that are not straight or properly aligned. Even though the images are slightly different, the brain interprets them as one. Strabismus can occur early in childhood or later in adulthood, although the causes of the eye misalignment are different. In the past, most eye doctors thought that adults with misaligned eyes could not be treated successfully, or that treatment was "only cosmetic".

Strabismus is a deviation of the eyes. Strabismus is commonly known as crossed eyes, wandering eyes or floating eyes. Strabismus in adults can also result from illnesses, such as thyroid disease, or from an eye injury. If vision is reduced, the brain of the child will learn to recognize the stronger image and ignore the weaker image of the amblyopic eye. Strabismus is associated with reduction of depth perception and if onset is in adulthood, double vision. Furthermore, strabismus presents a cosmetic concern especially for school-age children.  In addition to problems with vision, strabismus affects appearance and communication because it diminishes one's ability to make eye contact, which can become a disadvantage in both personal and professional livelihood. At Children's Hospital Boston, pediatric ophthalmologists who specialize in the delicate eye muscle surgery required to fix strabismus see both children and adults.

Causes of Strabismus

Common causes and risk factor's of Strabismus include the following :

  • Family member with strabismus.
  • Diabetes.
  • Squint is caused by a lack of coordination between the eyes, causing the eyes to point in different directions and the eyes do not focus simultaneously on a single point.
  • Most cases of strabismus in children are of unknown cause.
  • Squint in adults may result from injuries to the orbit or brain, including closed head injuries and strokes.
  • Loss of vision in one eye from any cause will usually cause the eye to gradually turn outward.
  • Persons with diabetes may suffer with squint due to poor blood supply to the eye muscles.

Symptoms of Strabismus

Some of the common sign and symptoms of the disease Strabismus are as follows:

  • Eyes that appear crossed.
  • Uncoordinated eye movements.
  • Double vision.
  • Vision in only one eye, with loss of depth perception.
  • Turned or crossed eye.
  • Head tilt or turn.
  • Squinting.
  • Double vision .
  • Crossed eyes.

Treatment of Strabismus

Find effective treatment methods of treating Strabismus :

  • Glasses or contact lenses may be prescribed to improve your ability to focus and help overcome poor vision. With better eyesight, strabismus may improve.
  • Vision training (also called eye exercises)
  • Eye drops or ointment may be put in the good eye to blur the vision (usually by making the pupil large and preventing the eye from focusing well). This forces the affected eye to fixate properly and may be used as a substitute for patching.
  • In rare cases, injections of botulinum toxin may also be used to treat strabismus.
  • The squint is treated by surgery . A tight muscle is surgically loosened by moving the muscle back on the eye. A weak muscle is strengthened by removing a small segment of the muscle to shorten it. Depending on the severity of the strabismus, surgery may involve the straight eye, the misaligned eye or both