What is it?

Strabismus is a condition whereby the eyes are not aligned and do not work together to look at an object. While one eye is looking directly at an object, the other eye is misaligned inward, outward, upward or downward. This can occur constantly or intermittently. This condition is commonly mistaken as ‘lazy eye’; however, lazy eye (amblyopia) and strabismus are different.

Strabismus can typically be caused by problems with the eye muscles or the function in the brain that directs eye movements. Other factors, such as general health or eye injuries, could also cause the condition.

It is possible for Strabismus to develop later in life; however, the symptoms are different from those that present from Strabismus that occurs in childhood. This is due to the developing brain of a child reacting to an eye misalignment very differently from that in an adult.

How is it treated?

Treatment should be started as early as possible and may include spectacles or a patch over one eye to force the child to use the off-kilter eye.

If farsightedness has been identified as the cause, glasses may be prescribed to solve the problem. It is important to cure the eye with the problem before the child turns 8 as that is when permanent vision loss can occur.

If the Strabismus is caused by the muscles in the eye, surgery can be considered. This surgery is most effective when done during childhood; however, adults can also undergo the procedure.

The surgeon opens the eyeball’s outer layer to reach a muscle. To strengthen the muscle, the surgeon removes a small section from one end and reattaches it at the same location. This makes the muscle shorter, which turns the eye toward that side. To weaken a muscle, the doctor moves it back or makes a partial cut across it. The eye then turns away from that side.