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My Child Has Strabismus. Now What?

My Child Has Strabismus. Now What?

Strabismus is a visual condition where a person’s eyes misalign and each of them point in a different direction than the other. While one eye may seem to be looking straight ahead, the other might have turned upwards, downwards, inwards or even outwards.

The misalignment of the eye turning in a different direction than the other eye temporary comes and goes, or sometimes it is a permanent condition. There are instances where the turned eye straightens, then the straight-looking eye turns.

This visual defect often occurs in young children. An estimation of 5% of the total children in the United States are suffering from strabismus. It may occur in children while they are growing and sometimes even later in life when one is already an adult.

Strabismus is not experienced by people of a specific gender, meaning it equally occurs in both males and females and sometimes it runs in the genetics of the family. Research shows that oftentimes people with strabismus have a family member or blood relative with the same condition.

How do the eyes work together?

In a typical situation, both eyes always aim at viewing the same spot. It is then that the brain comes in to combine the pictures from both eyes and forms a three dimensional, single image that gives a person a depth perception of the specific view.

The turning of an eye in a different direction allows the brain to receive two different pictures. Strabismus that occurs during childhood is better than adulthood because a child’s brain adapts to ignore the misaligned eye’s image and only focuses on the images viewed by the straight eye. However, the child might not have depth perception.

Oftentimes adults diagnosed with this condition have double vision because their brain is used to receiving images from both eyes, making it nearly difficult to ignore the turned eye’s image. An adult with strabismus might have a double view.

What causes strabismus?

Scientist and researchers are still looking for what could be the exact cause of strabismus. To have a focus on a specific target, the eye muscles from both eyes must work hand in hand. An imbalance of any of the eye’s muscles leads to an incoordination of both eyes and the affected eye to have a different view from the normal, ‘straight view.’

In both human beings and animals, the eye muscles are controlled by the brain. A person, especially children, with brain disorders is likely to have strabismus. Having an eye injury may affect one’s vision and may also advance to strabismus.

What are the signs of strabismus?

Having an eye that is not straight from either an adult or a child is the primary sign of strabismus. In a child’s development stage, he or she may experience discomfort in the eyes, especially when in contact with a lot of light or bright sunlight. They may try hard to tilt their head to have both eyes together or squint the affected eye to have a view.

Do you have a question about child strabismus? Click here to see ophthalmology and adult strabismus expert Dr. Sami for an exam!