Strabismus is a general term for an eye condition sometimes associated with amblyopia (lazy eye). However, they’re two separate conditions altogether, even though an eye patch may be used in treating both.
In this condition, the eyes are not properly aligned with each other. The eye muscles aren’t working together, so each eye appears to be looking at a different point. As a result, it could affect depth perception.
It’s not a condition that one will eventually outgrow. This is a case where time doesn’t necessarily put things right. Seek medical treatment (even surgery for strabismus), no matter the age of your child. You’ll both be happy you did!
How Is It Diagnosed?
Normally, a parent or pediatrician will spot it. It’s a good idea to see an ophthalmologist at an early age. The Hirschberg test can help diagnose it. A light is shone on the eye. If the reflection is not on the same spot, then strabismus is present.
It can be treated with eyeglasses or vision therapy. One might need strabismus surgery. Prisms can also be used. In this form of treatment, prisms change the course of light and images and this helps to cause a change in eye position.
Types Of Strabismus
The name derives from the Greek meaning to “squint” but actually it’s not really a question of squinting. It’s more that the eyes seem to be looking in different directions. There are three types.
Esotropia is probably the most common and appears at a very young age. The earlier it is corrected, such as with surgery, the better the chance of improving depth perception. In this condition, the eyes appear inwardly turned.
In exotropia, one or both eyes may be outward turning. The further the object being focused upon, the greater the outward deviation. Glasses and prisms may be prescribed, but generally, surgery seems to be the best course of action.
Hypertropia is where one eye deviates upwards (in hypotropia, it would be downwards) to the other eye. The ophthalmologist will test to isolate the weak muscles. Surgery can then try to align the eyes as best as possible.
Causes And Treatment
The real causes in children remain unknown. It appears at birth or soon after. Family history can play a part in acquiring the condition. Also, occasionally, an illness that affects the vision may result in this condition.
If your child has acute pediatric strabismus, the sooner you seek treatment, the better. In addition to the usual signs and symptoms, double vision may also be one of the complaints.
As part of strabismus treatment, your child may be asked to do eye muscle exercises. If caught early, the outlook is actually quite good as far as recovery is concerned. The longer you wait, the damage may be permanent.