Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes point in different directions. Types of strabismus include crossed eyes (esotropia), out-turned eyes (exotropia), or vertical misalignment (hyper or hypotropia). Turning of the eye may be constant or may show up only some of the time. Strabismus should be evaluated and treated.
- Double vision
- Eyes that look in different directions
- Head tilt or turn
Strabismus is caused by a poor coordination between the eyes. In very young children, the cause of strabismus is not well understood, but the condition often runs in families and occurs more commonly in children with neurological problems. In young children strabismus may be caused by an over exertion of the focus reflexes in children with hyperopia. It is important that the hyperopia be treated accurately and before any other treatment.
In adults, causes of strabismus include injury to an eye muscle or the nerves controlling those muscles; head injury; conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure; loss of vision; an eye or brain tumour; thyroid eye disease, stroke or other muscle and nerve disorders.
Children with strabismus must be identified and treated at a young age in order to prevent permanent vision problems. In children, when the two eyes fail to focus on the same image, the brain may learn to ignore the input from one eye. If this is allowed to continue, the eye that the brain ignores will never see well. Children do not grow out of strabismus.
Treatment depends on the cause of the strabismus and may include corrective glasses, eye patching, prism lenses and/or surgery.