STRABISMUS (Crossed Eyes)
DESCRIPTIONStrabismus is a lack of coordinated muscle movement or focusing ability between the eyes, causing the eyes to point in different directions. One or both eyes may turn inward (crossed eyes) or outward ("walleye"). The eyes, the brain area that controls vision, and the muscles attached to the eyeball are involved. Strabismus can affect both sexes, all ages, but it usually begins during early childhood, frequently before age 5.
Appropriate health care includes:
Home care after diagnosis.
Doctor's (opthalmologist's) treatment.
Surgery to correct the condition of the eye muscles (sometimes).
Tedious but necessary muscle re-training exercises by a qualified specialist.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSUncoordinated eye movements. This is sometimes evident only when the child is looking in certain directions.
Double vision (sometimes).
Vision in one eye only, with loss of depth perception.
CAUSESMuscle imbalance between the eyes.
Lack of equal focusing ability in the eyes. The brain cannot tolerate differing focused images, so it ignores signals from one field of vision. The weaker eye eventually becomes useless from disuse, and a "lazy" or wandering eye results.
Brain damage or head injury.
Your child's eye movement is controlled by brain signals to four muscles around each eye. Loss of coordinated movement results from:
Family history of strabismus.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCENo specific preventive measures.
Your own observation of symptoms. Note particularly if your young child covers one eye--this may indicate the eyes are not focusing together.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor, including tests of your child's visual acuity, a retina examination, a total neurological exam, and muscle tests.
Loss of normal vision in one eye.
Psychological distress from an unattractive facial appearance.
PROBABLE OUTCOMEWith early diagnosis, your child's strabismus can be corrected with glasses, an eye patch, eye exercises, or surgery. Without prompt treatment, vision loss in one eye may become permanent.
Many children adapt well to single-eye vision and eventually learn to drive a car or fly an airplane.
If vision is lost in one eye, your child should take extra precautions against injury in the other eye. The child should wear goggles for sports and other activities, such as carpentry, that carry the risk of injury.
HOME CAREYour doctor may recommend:
Glasses or an eye patch over the child's stronger eye to correct focusing imbalance. These force the weak eye to work.
MEDICATIONMedicine usually is not necessary for this disorder.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
No restrictions. Protect your child against falls or injury while adjusting to an eye patch.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes. Try to make the environment the same as for a child without strabismus.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of strabismus.