Strabismus is a visual problem in which the eyes are not aligned properly and point in different directions. One eye may look straight ahead, while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward. The eye turn may be consistent, or it may come and go. Which eye is straight (and which is misaligned) may switch or alternate.
Strabismus is a common condition among children. About 4 percent of all children in the United States have strabismus. It can also occur later in life.
Strabismus can be diagnosed during an eye exam. It is recommended that all children between 3 and 3½ years of age have their vision checked by their pediatrician, family practitioner or an individual trained in vision assessment of preschool children. Any child who fails this vision screening should then have a complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist.
If there is a family history of strabismus or amblyopia, or a family history of wearing thick eyeglasses, one of the ophthalmologists at Eye Care Associates should check vision even earlier than age 3. After a complete eye examination, our ophthalmologist can recommend appropriate treatment.
Treatment for strabismus works to straighten the eyes and restore binocular (two-eyed) vision. In some cases of strabismus, eyeglasses can be prescribed for your child to straighten the eyes. Other treatments may involve surgery to correct the unbalanced eye muscles or to remove a cataract. Patching or blurring the strong eye to improve amblyopia is often necessary.
How is strabismus surgery done?
The eyeball is never removed from the socket during any kind of surgery. The ophthalmologist makes a small incision in the tissue covering the eye to reach the eye muscles.
The eye muscles are detached from the wall of the eye and repositioned during the surgery, depending on which direction the eye is turning. It may be necessary to perform surgery on one or both eyes.
Recovery time is rapid. Children are usually able to resume their normal activities within a few days.
After surgery, glasses may still be required. In some cases, more than one surgery may be needed to straighten the eyes.