Strabismus, How to Recognize It, and How to Treat It

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Millions of Americans, including children, suffer from strabismus. To recognize and treat it before its symptoms become too serious, you need to understand it.

What Is Strabismus?

Strabismus, lazy eye, is a disorder where both eyes cannot focus in the same direction at the same time. Although strabismus can occur in adults, most cases occur in children under two or three years old. It has multiple causes, including:

  • Family history. In particular, Accommodative strabismus is often hereditary.
  • Each eye has six muscles. Two of those control left and right movement, the rest up and down. If a person is farsighted, there will be excessive strain on those muscles when he or she tries looking at objects. This problem will deteriorate the connection between the eye and the brain and, consequently, the ability to control the eye.
  • Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, brain tumors, and strokes also increase the risk of strabismus because these problems weaken muscles and the ability to control muscles.

Types of strabismus include:

  • Infantile Esotropia: the inward turning of the eyes.
  • Accommodative Esotropia: the inward turning of the eyes due to farsightedness.
  • Exotropia: the outward turning of the eyes, often associated with general illness, fatigue, and daydreaming.
  • Hypertropia: a type of strabismus in which the visual axis of one eye is above that of the other.
  • Hypotropia: a kind of strabismus where the visual axis of one eye is below that of the other.
  • Sixth Nerve Palsy: a condition in which the sixth cranial nerve becomes damaged, causing crossed eyes and double vision.
  • Others: You can define strabismus by the frequency of outward eye movement. You can also define strabismus by the number of eyes it is in. Another criterion by which you can define strabismus is whether it stays in one eye or switches from one to the other.

Symptoms of Strabismus

  • Amblyopia, or the reduction of vision, or blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Generally, eyes that don't look the same way

How to Treat Strabismus

See a doctor to have your eyes checked. You may just have pseudostrabismus, a condition in which the eyes appear to be crossed because of excess skin under the eyes or a particularly large nose. If you have actual strabismus, there are many ways to treat it, including:

  • Glasses or Contacts: You may only need glasses or contacts to cure your strabismus.
  • Vision Therapy: Here you exercise to strengthen your ability to control your eyes in the doctor's office or at home.
  • Prism Lenses: Prism lenses reflect light such that the eyes don't have to turn again.
  • Surgery: Here the doctor strengthens or weakens a muscle to achieve correct vision. The procedure is simple, so you don't have to stay overnight. A few days after the surgery you can resume your normal activity.

If you don't have strabismus treated in due time, you or your child may have it forever. So, when you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor so he can cure you of any problems.

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