Strabismus is a common pediatric eye condition. About 4% of children under the age of 6 are affected by this condition, which is a misalignment of the eyes.
Also called crossed eyes, strabismus is when one or both eyes turn inward, upward, or outward when looking straight ahead. Although children do not outgrow this condition, numerous treatments can help to help correct it.
Strabismus can affect people of any age, but it’s most common in young children. Early intervention to address this misalignment can help prevent complications later on. The experienced team of pediatric eye ophthalmologists and optometrists at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists share how you can recognize the signs of strabismus so you can get your child help.
What causes strabismus?
Strabismus is a result of weak eye muscles, nerve issues related to transmitting information to the brain, or a disorder that affects the brain, such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. Your child is at a higher risk of developing strabismus if there is a family history or has uncorrected farsightedness.
There are different types of strabismus, but the two most common are accommodative esotropia and intermittent exotropia. Accommodative esotropia is when the eyes turn inward, and intermittent exotropia is when the eye or eyes outward.
How to spot strabismus
Symptoms of strabismus can be constant or happen on occasion. In many newborns, their eyes wander as they learn to adjust to their new surroundings.
However, after about three months, the child should be able to master the ability to keep both eyes together to focus on an object. The primary way to recognize strabismus in your child is by noticing that their eyes are not aligned. Other symptoms include:
- Eyes that don’t move together
- Frequent blinking or squinting
- Double vision
When the child is young, both eyes work even with strabismus, although their eye misalignment may lead to double vision. Over time, the brain ignores signals from one eye to prevent double vision, and, as a result, that eye can become weaker. Untreated strabismus can lead to amblyopia, which is when one eye has decreased vision, and vision loss.
Strabismus treatment options
There are a variety of treatment options for strabismus. Your eye doctor will determine the most effective one or ones to treat your child. Treatment options include eyeglasses, vision correction therapy, and eye surgery.
During eye surgery, your pediatric eye surgeon adjusts the position or length of the eye muscles so that they help align the child’s eyes more effectively. Usually, after surgery, glasses or vision therapy is also part of the treatment plan.
If you notice eye misalignment in one or both of your child’s eyes, make an appointment at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists with offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, by phone or online.