Strabismus is a general term that refers to a condition when both eyes do not point in the same direction. Larger amounts of strabismus can be noticed just by looking at someone’s eyes. Smaller amounts of strabismus are only detectable with special tests.
Strabismus can be present at all times or intermittent, meaning the eye turns only some of the time. Strabismus is often hereditary, and is usually first noticed from birth to age 5. When children develop strabismus, their brain learns to turn off (or suppress) one eye to prevent double vision. This will reduce depth perception, and can affect balance and gross motor skills even in very young children. Ball catching is often very difficult when a child has strabismus. Amblyopia can also be caused by strabismus when the child loses vision in the eye that is turned off.
Esotropia and exotropia are the most common types of strabismus. Exotropia is when one eye drifts outwards towards the ear, and esotropia is when one eye drifts in towards the nose.
Strabismus treatment options include vision therapy, eye muscle surgery, and glasses. Vision therapy can be very helpful for mild to moderate strabismus, but larger amounts will usually require eye muscle surgery. We work closely with pediatric opthalmologists who perform the surgery, and we often recommend pre- or post surgical vision therapy to obtain the best possible result. The goal of treatment is achieve cosmetically straight eyes along with normal binocular vision and depth perception. Seeing the world in 3-D helps with sports, driving, motor skills and even with the latest entertainment technology!
Adults with strabismus and poor depth perception can also be helped by vision therapy.
Recent research and treatment advances have demonstrated that significant improvements are possible in adulthood.