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STRABISMUS (Turned or Crossed Eye)

What is Strabismus?

Strabismus is a condition recognized by an eye turn or a mismatch between where each eye is pointing which may be present in one or both eyes.  Esotropia involves an eye that turns inward (towards one’s nose) while exotropia involves an eye that turns outward (towards one’s temple). Strabismus may appear all the time (constant), more randomly (intermittent), or may switch between both eyes (alternating). These are the most usual types of strabismus, but there are also some less common vertical forms when one or both eyes turn/move up or down (hypertropia or hypotropia). 


Strabismus is not only an eye muscle deficiency, but more importantly, a complex complication between the eye and brain’s communication mechanisms.   With strabismus, the brain does not efficiently signal the proper information to the eye(s) and ocular muscles in order for them to team, align, and process visual information properly.  A person may develop strabismus when they are an infant, a child or adolescent, an adult, or after a concussion, traumatic brain injury, or for other reasons (e.g., disease processes, developmental delays, strokes, accidents, etc.). 

What are the Symptoms/Signs of Strabismus?

Sometimes referred to as squint, strabismus signs include squinting of the eye/eyes, eye misalignment (crossing or wandering), and efforts to close or cover an eye. Strabismus causes difficulties with double vision, depth perception (including motor coordination), headaches, light sensitivity, blurry vision, vision that fluctuates   depending on the task or time of day, learning challenges in many areas but especially with reading, and eye discomfort among other things.

A resultant complication of strabismus may be suppression of binocular vision. A person may suppress one’s central or peripheral vision and each person’s experience of suppression varies. A person often develops suppression because it helps eliminate double vision or relieves other visual stressors (e.g., squinting, eye discomfort, confusing visual information). Suppression and strabismus can result in another serious visual condition called amblyopia

How Can Strabismus be Treated?

Common treatments include prescribed lenses (often with special prisms) and vision therapy. A referral for strabismus surgery may result depending on the optometrist’s recommendations. Vision therapy treatment includes the use of physician-prescribed tools such as optometric phototherapy, prisms, and lenses along with integrative exercises designed to improve central and peripheral vision, eye movement and alignment, visual perception, and efficient use of one’s visual skills along with the body and other senses. 

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