What are crossed eyes or strabismus?
Strabismus, more commonly known as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, is a vision condition in which a person cannot align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions. One or both of the eyes may turn in, out, up or down. An eye turn may be constant (when the eye turns all of the time) or intermittent (turning only some of the time, such as, under stressful conditions or when ill). Whether constant or intermittent, strabismus always requires appropriate evaluation and treatment. Children do not outgrow strabismus!
Who gets crossed eyes or strabismus?
The condition occurs in about 5% of children. It may manifest at first as double vision. Eventually, the brain begins to ignore, or suppress, information from the weaker eye. If left untreated, strabismus can lead to visual impairment, loss of binocular vision, and blindness in the weaker eye.
How are crossed eyes or strabismus diagnosed?
According to both the American Optometric Association and American Ophthalmological Association, all children should have their first examination around 9 months of age. However, if an extreme or constant eye turn is noticed, the baby should be examined before 9 months. If a constant eye turn or significant refractive error is found, the eyes need to be fully evaluated and corrected as early as possible.
Crossed Eyes Treatment
When strabismus is mild, glasses may be prescribed to correct the alignment problem or a patch may be placed over the normally functioning eye for a number of hours every day. "Patching" or eye drops can help remind the brain that it needs to pay attention to both eyes, which sometimes can improve the alignment.
In more difficult cases and in cases where glasses do not correct strabismus, eye muscle surgery is typically needed to straighten the eyes and prevent vision loss. The surgery involves detaching the muscle (or muscles) that is causing misalignment and reattaching it (or them) to a new spot.