Affecting about 5 percent children worldwide, strabismus is a vision problem that is characterized by inability of the eyes to focus on one object. This condition can be treated with the help of vision exercises, eye glasses, eye drops, and surgery. This article provides information on the causes and treatment of this condition.
Strabismus is an eye problem, wherein both the eyes cannot align properly at the same time. The eyes orient in different directions, leading to difficulty in focusing the same object at the same time. This condition is also known as squint or crossed eyes. It affects approximately one out of every 20 children, though it may not be very distinct in some children. Majority of the cross-eyed adults report difficulty in reading and carrying out normal activities.
This condition is attributed to the lack of coordination between the two eyes either due to impairment in the ocular muscles or one-sided pulling of the muscles. In some cases, the brain is responsible for failure in coordinating the vision of the two eyes. Other than negative impacts on the self image, squint results in double vision, blurred vision, and eye fatigue in children. At any point of time, one eye moves or rotates normally, while the other eye orients up (hypertropia), down (hypotropia), in (esotropia), or out (exotropia).
This eye condition may be congenital (present at birth) or might develop some time after birth. In newborns, mild squint is a normal incidence, which could be due to underdeveloped vision. Hence, there are chances of regaining normal vision, as the baby grows. Nevertheless, in some infants, this condition may prevail/not disappear even after some months. Similar to other medical problems, the success rate of the treatment is higher, when diagnosed in the initial stages.
This eye condition can be diagnosed in children, by conducting a complete eye examination. A delay in the treatment can result in serious long-term vision problems. One of the major complications of crossed eyes is amblyopia. Amblyopia is caused when both the eyes fail to concentrate on the same object for a long time and the brain tends to ignore the vision of one eye. Over a period of time, the deviated eye loses the ability to see objects in detail. Timely treatment can avoid such instances.
The objective of the treatment is to restore binocular vision and correct the deviated eye, so as to enable focusing. The effectual therapeutic approaches for squint include visual therapy, eye drops, the use of prescription glasses, and strabismus eye surgery. In the surgical procedure, a small incision is made to get access to the eye muscles. Depending upon which direction the deviated eye points to, respective eye muscles are repositioned for vision correction. However, opting for the surgical procedure for children is debatable. Many eye surgeons are of the opinion that surgical procedure should be performed as the last resort for correcting squint in children, whereas the others believe that early operation is essential.
Many a time, combined treatment is advocated for effective results. The eye specialist may also recommend the affected child to perform specific eye exercises, so as to reposition the defective ocular muscles.
Since this condition is usually inherited, it is advisable to examine the eyes of infants and children, especially who have a family history of squint. With correct eye care and therapy, this eye condition can be treated without any complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.