As many as 4% of American children have strabismus, a common childhood eye disorder in which their eyes don’t align. If a child has strabismus, the eyes appear to be looking in different directions.
Not surprisingly, if it’s not treated early, strabismus can cause considerable problems throughout childhood and perhaps into adulthood.
A leading pediatric ophthalmology practice in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, ABC Children's Eye Specialists offers state-of-the-art treatment for strabismus, helping children avoid long-term vision problems and improving their confidence, too.
If your child’s eyes don’t align properly, here’s what you should know about strabismus and its treatment.
Quick facts about strabismus
Each eye is attached to six muscles that help control eye movement. In healthy eyes, these muscles work together in a coordinated effort to maintain alignment, so both eyes focus on the same object at the same time.
When a child has strabismus, each eye moves independently of the other.
Strabismus can happen in four different ways:
- Esotropia (cross-eyes) happens when one or both eyes turn inward
- Exotropia (walleye) happens when one or both eyes turn outward
- Hypotropia happens when one or both eyes turn downward
- Hypertropia happens when one or both eyes turn upward
Strabismus can vary in severity, and some children may exhibit symptoms intermittently, while others have symptoms all the time.
Typically, strabismus involves one “stronger” eye and one “weaker” eye. The brain learns to rely more on the stronger eye for what it actually sees. As a result, vision can be much poorer in the weaker eye.
Strabismus can happen any time during childhood, including the preschool years and even shortly after birth. Treating strabismus early helps avoid vision problems that can interfere with school and other activities right away and during adult life.
Strabismus can often be corrected with vision correction therapy, a multi-week program of eye exercises aimed at improving eye muscle strength and control. During therapy, your child has weekly visits with our team to practice their exercises, which they continue to perform at home.
Depending on your child’s specific needs, they may need glasses to support the “weaker” eye. In some instances, we may recommend glasses or contacts to address other vision problems, like farsightedness or nearsightedness, that could be contributing to strabismus.
In a few cases, surgery is the best option for treating strabismus. In this surgery, the doctor repositions the eye muscles to improve their function. Typically, vision therapy follows surgery and helps the eyes learn how to work together.
Protect your child’s vision
Strabismus causes serious vision problems as your child grows, and it can interfere with learning, socializing, and overall development, in addition to taking a toll on your child’s confidence. Early treatment is the key to helping your child enjoy better vision and healthier eyes.
To learn more about strabismus treatment, call our offices to book an appointment with the team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists today.