What Is Strabismus?Strabismus is an eye condition in which the eyes are misaligned and do not point in the same direction. This defect is also known as crossed eyes and wondering eyes. Due to the misalignment of the eyes, the brain receives two different pictures. This causes the brain to ignore images received from the weaker eye. If left untreated, strabismus may lead to loss of vision in the ignored eye, the condition known as amblyopia or lazy eye. Strabismus can occur in early childhood or later in life. It equally affects both males and females. The exact cause of strabismus is still unexplained but family history is considered to be the main risk factor.
Treatment for Strabismus
Early treatment of strabismus in children is critical in order to prevent different vision problems and vision loss. For better results, the treatment should start as soon as the problem is identified.
Treatment for strabismus aims to preserve vision, strengthen the eyes and help in normal development of vision. It also involves treatment of amblyopia since it can rapidly affect vision in a child. However, if amblyopia has developed it can not be reversed.
Treatment options for strabismus include eye patching, glasses, eye drops, visual exercises, botulinum toxin and surgery.
Wearing glasses can be of help in correcting strabismus if there is only a slight misalignment of the eyes. Sometimes children have to wear special glasses with bifocal or prism correction to improve focus. Eye drops may be used in combination with glasses.
Eye PatchingEye patches are mainly used in treatment of amblyopia which can cause or be caused by strabismus. Eye patching is used to cover the stronger eye in order to strengthen the weaker eye. However, it is vital to stick to specific directions for wearing an eye patch because prolonged use of the patch can lead to development of amblyopia in initially stronger eye.
Drug treatment is also an option in managing strabismus and is usually given in the form of eye drops. Miotics and atropine are the most commonly used eye drops. Miotics can help to correct focus while atropine can serve as an alternative to eye patching in treating amblyopia by blurring the vision of the stronger eye thus stimulating the use of the weaker one.
Visual exercises are usually inefficient in treatment of strabismus when used alone but must be combined with other treatment methods.
Botulinum toxin (Botox) can be injected in the ocular muscles to relax the muscles for several months. It is often used in addition to the surgical treatment.
In most strabismus cases, surgical treatment is the only option to correct the problem. Surgery is used to reposition the eye muscles. When performed on children, surgery is done under general anesthesia while adults are operated under local anesthesia.