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Oct 8

What is Strabismus? Strabismus Definition & Treatment

Defining Strabismus

One of the most common vision conditions is strabismus. Strabismus is commonly known as “cross-eye,” although this actually refers to one type of strabismus, and it affects both adults and children. Up to 5% of children are affected by strabismus, and about 4% of the general population is estimated to have strabismus.

Strabismus is the name of the condition in which the eyes are misaligned. There are several different types of strabismus, and it can be described by the direction the eyes misalign or by its cause. Strabismus is caused by weakness or paralysis of vision nerves, eye muscles, or problems with the part of the brain that controls the eyes’ movements. Injuries and medical conditions can also cause strabismus; for example, people with Down syndrome or who have had a stroke have a higher risk of developing strabismus.

Some strabismus is constant, where the eyes are constantly misaligned. Other types of strabismus are intermittent, where the eyes misalign on occasion, such as when the person is tired or sick. And sometimes only one eye misaligns, and sometimes both eyes misalign at different times. Strabismus is very treatable, especially when it is caught early on. While some eye conditions can improve in children as they grow older, strabismus will not improve without treatment. Treatments for strabismus include prescription glasses, prisms, and vision therapy. There is surgery for strabismus; however, this surgery is mainly for cosmetic improvement to reduce the look of cross-eye, as vision is rarely improved from only strabismus surgery, and repeat surgeries are often necessary. Usually surgery is paired with vision therapy so that both cosmetic appearance and vision are improved together.

Strabismus vs Amblyopia

If strabismus is not treated, the brain learns to ignore images from the misaligned eye so that vision is not doubled. This leads to amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” and can cause vision loss in that eye if it is continued to be ignored.

Contact Us for Strabismus Treatment Options

Your eye doctor can tell if you or your child has strabismus or other vision problems through a comprehensive eye exam. Contact us to schedule an eye exam or discuss vision therapy options.