What Is Strabismus?

Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes don’t move in the same direction. They appear to point in different directions. One or both eyes may turn either in or out. Over time, the weaker eye becomes “lazier,” or less used, as the brain uses signals from the stronger eye.

Strabismus runs in some families. Treatment can correct this condition, but without early treatment, some vision may be lost.

What Causes Strabismus?

Strabismus has two causes. The first is a difference in strength of muscles around each eye. The second is a difference in each eye’s ability to focus. If either the muscle strength or focus of one eye is weaker, that eye may start to drift. Strabismus usually appears in early to middle childhood. It can also occur as early as at birth, but it’s hard to diagnose strabismus until 3 months of age, because at birth the eyes cannot focus well. Adults can also develop strabismus. In adults, a disease such as diabetes or stroke or injury to the eye can cause it.

What Are the Symptoms of Strabismus?

The main symptom is that the eyes seem to look in two different directions. Squinting, frequent eye rubbing, and tilting of the head are common. Double vision and vision in only one eye are other symptoms.

How Is Strabismus Diagnosed?

The health care provider will make a diagnosis by doing an eye examination. The examination may include looking through a set of prisms to find the differences between the eyes. The eye exam may also include a visual acuity test, examination of the retina, and a neurological examination. Your health care provider may suggest seeing an ophthalmologist (specialist in eye disorders). The specialist will also check nerves and muscles around the eyes. Then, decisions about whether surgery might fix the problem can be made.

Children should usually have their eyes examined every 1 to 4 months until the eyes are stable. After that, they may need examinations every 6 months until the age of 6 years. Annual examinations should follow until age 9 to 11.

How Is Strabismus Treated?

The goal of treatment is to make the weaker eye stronger. To do this, glasses or an eye patch over the stronger eye may be used. This forces the weaker eye to become stronger. The health care provider may suggest doing eye muscle exercises. Eye drops (atropine) may also be used in some cases. Sometimes, surgery is needed to balance the muscle strength between the two eyes.

DOs and DON’Ts in Managing Strabismus:

  • DOwear the patch or eyeglasses, or both, given to you by your health care provider.
  • DOcallyour health care provider if you get a fever or pain and redness in the eye after surgery.
  • DON'Trun when you’re adjusting to wearing an eye patch. This will help prevent falls and injury.


Source: Clinicalkey.com

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