Strabismus is a condition where the two eyes do not align properly and point in different directions. This can happen constantly or on an intermittent basis. When an eye that turns inwards, it is called Esotropia. An eye that is pointed outwards, it is called Exotropia. A vertical turning of an eye is called Hypertropia.
Eye turns can occur at any age but are most common in the very young. There are many causes for eye turns and should always be examined by your eyecare professional to determine the cause and treatment options.
When the two eyes are not working together a number of symptoms may occur. Some patients are symptom free due to how the body and brain may adapt to the two different images that each eye receives. When symptoms do occur they may include:
- Double vision or ghost images
- Eyestrain and fatigue
- Poor depth perception
- Clumsiness, bumping into furniture and walls
- Head turns or tilting
- Reduced Vision in the turned eye (called Amblyopia or Lazy Eye)
When the eye turn is longstanding, it is rare to see double vision. The brain has a mechanism to turn off the vision in the turned eye so only one eye is being used, this is called suppression.
Strabismus does run in families and it occurs equally in males and females. If not treated early, Amblyopia (or lazy eye) can develop. Occasionally strabismus can be a result of an injury to the eye or brain.
The goal of treatment is to improve the cosmetic appearance of the eye turn as well as obtaining binocularity (teaming of both eyes together). Treatment for this condition can include any of the following: Special prescription eyeglasses that may include prisms or bifocals, vision therapy, surgery, or sometimes a combination of treatments. Cosmetic appearance and binocular function can be excellent when detected and treated early.