Strabismus — Misaligned Eyes
When a person’s eyes are not aligned properly and they point in different directions this is called strabismus. This condition is common among children, although it can also occur later in life. There are non-surgical treatments for strabismus, but surgery is often needed to correct imbalanced eye muscles creating the condition. We perform strabismus surgery at Millennium Park Eye Center.
What is strabismus?
Strabismus simply means the person’s eyes are not aligned. One eye may look straight ahead, while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward. This is not uncommon in children — 4 percent of U.S. children have strabismus.
Infantile estropia is a type of common infant strabismus, where the eye turns inward. Accommodative estropia is more common in children usually 2 years and older. When a child focuses the eyes with this form of esotropia, the eyes turn inward. You may know this as crossed eyes. Exotropia is when the eye turns outward.
What causes strabismus?
Our eye movement is controlled by six muscles. They are attached to the outside of each eye with one moving the eye to the right, one to the left, and four moving it up, down, or at an angle. To line up and focus both eyes on a single target, all of the muscles in each eye must be balanced and working together.
When your vision is normal, both eyes aim at the same spot. The optic nerve sends these two different pictures to the brain, which combines them into a single, three-dimensional image. The dimensional image provides depth perception.
When the muscles are unbalanced, the eyes focus on different areas. When the optic nerves send these two images to the brain, the brain learns to ignore the image from the misaligned eye and interprets the image from the straight or better-seeing eye. This causes a loss of depth perception.
How is strabismus treated?
At Millennium Park Eye Center we have various treatments to attempt to straighten the eyes without surgery. Eyeglasses can be prescribed. Often a patch is placed over the strong eye to make the weaker eye improve.
Surgery is often needed, however. To correct strabismus, we make a small incision in the tissue covering the eye to gain access to the eye muscles. The eye muscles are then detached from the wall of the eye and repositioned. Surgery may be required on one or both eyes.
In children, recovery is remarkably fast. Kids can usually resume their normal activities in just a few days. Glasses may be required after surgery. With children, early surgery is often the best treatment, so the child can regain normal binocular vision before the strabismus begins to really impact their overall vision.
If your child is showing signs of strabismus, please come see us immediately. Call Millennium Park Eye Center at (312) 996-2020 to make your appointment.