Strabismus

Strabismus is a problem with the alignment of the eyes. One or both of the eyes are turned in, out, up, or down. Strabismus is most common in children but may occur in adults. It can lead to permanent vision loss if it is not detected and treated in a timely manner. There are two types:

  • Causes

    Strabismus is caused by a lack of coordination between the muscles in the eyes. This can happen due to:

    • Problems, imbalances, or injuries of the muscles that move the eyes

    • Nervous system disorders that affect vision, such as:

      • Problems or injury of the nerves that control the eye muscles
      • Tumor in or near the eye or brain
      • Strokes
        or bleeding in the brain
      • Increased pressure in the brain
      • Myasthenia gravis

  • Definition

    Strabismus is a problem with the alignment of the eyes. One or both of the eyes are turned in, out, up, or down. Strabismus is most common in children but may occur in adults. It can lead to permanent vision loss if it is not detected and treated in a timely manner.

    Appearance of Strabismus
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    There are two types:

    • Constant strabismus—the eye turns all the time
    • Intermittent strabismus—the eye turns only some of the time, like in times of stress, illness, concentration, or when tired

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You should also have an eye exam by an ophthalmologist. This specialist will test your eyesight and look for other potential eye problems. You may also be given a neurologic exam and other tests to rule out other possible causes.

  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent strabismus. If you notice that you or your child’s eyes are not properly aligned, visit your eye doctor immediately.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk for strabismus include having:

    • Family member with strabismus
    • Diabetes
    • Thyroid disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Retinopathy of prematurity
    • Vision loss in one eye—the blind eye will often turn in or out
    • Glasses are needed but not used

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Double vision
    • Crossed eyes
    • Eyes that do not align properly
    • Uncoordinated eye movements
    • Squinting
    • Favoring a certain head position

  • Treatment

    Treatment may include: