Crossed eyes, also known as strabismus, is a condition in which the eyes do not line up properly, causing them to look off into different directions with each eye focussing on a different object.
This disorder is commonly found in children, affecting around four percent aged 6 or below. Its cause at birth is unknown however it does tend to run in families. There are two types of crossed eyes in children, one appearing in infancy and the other as the child grows older.
Infantile Esotropia appears in babies within their first year of life and usually requires surgery to correct whereas Acquired Esotropia occurs in children aged 2-5 and is often treatable with eyeglasses.
Crossed eyes occur when the muscles surrounding the eyes do not work in unison because some are weaker than others. The brain then receives two different visual messages, making it disregard the weaker eye. Over time it is possible to lose vision in the weaker eye if the condition is not treated.
The disorder can also be found in adults and is often caused by factors such as a brain tumour, stroke, retinal damage or diabetes. It is also possible to develop crossed eyes as an adult if you suffer from a lazy eye or farsightedness due to the strain put onto the eyes in order to focus on objects.
Symptoms of the condition may include impaired vision, loss of depth perception, eyes pointing inward or outward causing them to focus in different directions and double vision. There are ways to correct strabismus; however the treatments do depend on the severity and cause. Some ways to correct the condition are:
- Eye glasses
- Eye exercises
- Eye patch over dominant eye to strengthen muscles in weaker eye
- Surgery to strengthen certain eye muscles
It is crucial to diagnose strabismus in its early stages to prevent any vision loss and to rule out any other possible conditions that could be causing the eyes to cross such as Cerebral Palsy or Guillain- Barre syndrome. In many cases strabismus can be treated, however symptoms may continue to reoccur so it is important to monitor the symptoms to ensure no further damage is done to the eyes.