What Causes Strabismus and Can It Be Treated?

The condition known as Strabismus is a problem with the eyes in which the six muscles surrounding the eyes don’t work correctly and in conjunction with each other. This basically means that both eyes don’t look at an object at the same time. Most people call this condition “cross eyes” because one eye appears to look in a different direction to the other.

strabismus treatmentThe condition results in two different images which confuse the brain to the extent that the brain starts to ignore one of the images since it believes one of them to be incorrect. The eye which transmits the perceived incorrect image then starts to suffer from a condition known as “lazy eye” or more correctly “amblyopia”. It is possible for the amblyopia to cause the strabismus or vice versa.

Strabismus is more common in young children to the point that over 50% of cases exist in children shortly after birth and it is usually easy to spot. There are a number of different conditions which are commonly associated with strabismus and these include traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, diabetes and Guillain-Barre syndrome. If a family has a history of strabismus then there is an increased risk in children born in that family. It is also possible that someone suffering with the condition will also suffer from other eye conditions such as double vision and even some loss of vision.

The symptoms of the disease can appear and disappear over time and can be particularly present during times of sickness and general ill health. Once the condition has been noticed you should undergo a detailed examination of the eyes to ascertain just how far the eyes are misaligned. This detailed examination will test both light reflex and acuity of the eyes in addition to the standard ophthalmic examination.

what causes strabismus?

Once the examination is complete then treatment can begin. This normally starts with a prescription for spectacles in addition to placing a patch over the non lazy eye which forces the weak eye to increase performance by working harder. If this non surgical treatment is unsuccessful then it may be necessary to perform eye surgery and modify the strength of the various eye muscles. Although this does not and cannot improve sight problems, it can certainly make the eyes move in unison. When combined with spectacles the results can be substantial, particularly when treatment is performed at an early age.

It is also possible to strengthen the eye muscles through a series of eye muscle exercises but the best results are usually obtained through surgery. The longer the condition remains untreated the more the probability that there will be some element of vision loss, so early diagnosis and treatment is important.