Improve Your Vision with Surgery for PtosisIf you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with strabismus (also known as crossed eyes), it's natural to have questions and concerns. Strabismus affects 2% - 5% of the general population, but many are still unfamiliar with what it is and how it can impact vision.

At Conestoga Eye, we specialize in the treatment of strabismus in both children and adults and have helped countless patients achieve better eye alignment and improved vision. With our experienced team of eye doctors and state-of-the-art technology, we are dedicated to providing the best possible care for all our patients.

In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about strabismus, from its causes and symptoms to the various treatment options available. We hope that by the end, you will have a better understanding of this condition and feel more confident in seeking treatment.

What is Strabismus?

Strabismus is a vision condition in which the eyes do not align properly, often resulting in the eyes looking in different directions. This misalignment is caused by the imbalance in the positioning or strength of the muscles that control eye movement. One eye may look straight ahead, while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward.

The primary role of these eye muscles is to ensure both eyes work together to focus on the same spot in space. In cases of strabismus, the misaligned eyes send different images to the brain, creating confusion and often leading to the brain ignoring the image from the misaligned eye, avoiding double vision. This may result in the underuse or suppression of the misaligned eye, which can lead to further vision issues and even potential vision loss in severe cases.

Who is at Risk of Developing Strabismus?

Typically, strabismus occurs in infancy or early childhood, with the majority of cases being diagnosed by the time a child is 3 years old. Children with strabismus often have a family history of the condition, and congenital strabismus, or strabismus that is present at birth, is also common.

However, several factors may cause an adult to develop strabismus later in life, including:

  • Uncorrected refractive errors such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism may contribute to eye misalignment.
  • Poor vision in one eye can prompt that eye to drift, which can eventually lead to strabismus.
  • Certain systemic conditions, including cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, can increase a person's risk. For instance, 20% to 60% of people with Down syndrome also have strabismus.
  • Neurological conditions like brain tumors, stroke, or head injuries may also cause strabismus.

What Are The Symptoms of Strabismus?

Strabismus can present itself in many forms, but there are some common symptoms to look out for. These include an apparent misalignment of the eyes, where one eye may appear to turn in a different direction from the other. You may notice this when the person is focusing on an object or looking in a particular direction. Additionally, you may observe frequent squinting or the closing of one eye, particularly in bright light or when trying to see clearly.

A person with strabismus might also struggle with inconsistent depth perception. Strabismus often affects the ability to perceive depth accurately, leading to problems with tasks that require gauging distances, such as playing sports or driving. This is due to the brain receiving two different visual signals from the misaligned eyes.

Strabismus can also cause double vision, as the brain struggles to combine two images that are not the same. In an attempt to avoid double vision, the brain may start ignoring the image from the misaligned or 'lazy' eye, a condition known as amblyopia. Amblyopia occurs when the brain favors one eye over the other, and over time, the less favored eye may see a decrease in vision.

How is Strabismus Treated?

After a person is diagnosed with strabismus, treatment typically involves correcting the eye alignment and addressing any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the misalignment. Nonsurgical options include:

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses: If an uncorrected refractive error is causing the strabismus, eyeglasses or contact lenses may be prescribed to help correct the vision and alleviate eye strain.
  • Prism lenses: In some cases, prism lenses may be prescribed to help align images from both eyes and reduce double vision.
  • Eye muscle exercises: Your eye doctor may recommend specific exercises to strengthen the weaker eye and improve its alignment with the stronger eye. These exercises can also help improve depth perception.
  • Medications: Medicated eye drops, ointments, or injections may be prescribed to weaken the overactive eye muscle.

When treated early, nonsurgical methods are often successful in correcting strabismus. However, in some cases, strabismus surgery may be necessary, particularly if the condition is severe or has not responded to nonsurgical treatments. This procedure involves either shortening or lengthening the eye muscles to correct their balance and alignment. Eye muscle surgery is generally safe and can significantly improve both the appearance and function of the eyes.

It's important to remember that the appropriate treatment option depends largely on the individual case, and a consultation with a skilled eye doctor is crucial in determining the best course of action.

Why Should I Choose Conestoga Eye?

At Conestoga Eye, we understand the complexities of strabismus and the impact it can have on a person's quality of life. Our dedicated team, led by our founder, David I Silbert, MD, FAAP, is committed to providing specialized care for both pediatric and adult patients suffering from this condition.

In his career, Dr. Silbert has held numerous leadership roles across local, state, and national medical organizations, further cementing his authority and expertise in the field. He uses state-of-the-art technology and the latest medical advancements to diagnose and treat strabismus, working tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients.

You will also trust your child's strabismus treatment to Dr. Hayley Woodall, a passionate pediatric optometrist with extensive experience and education. Having graduated with honors and completed a postgraduate residency in Pediatric Optometry, Dr. Woodall provides compassionate and specialized eye care.

Before joining Conestoga Eye, Dr. Woodall worked as the coordinator of an optometry clinic at a multidisciplinary facility in Memphis. She ensures that her young patients receive the high-quality, individualized attention they need for successful strabismus management.

With a focus on early detection and intervention, Dr. Silbert, Dr. Woodall, and the Conestoga Eye team are dedicated to preserving and improving your vision, restoring not just your sight but your quality of life.

From routine visits to medical eye care, the team at Conestoga Eye is ready to assist you with all your vision needs. Schedule an appointment online with us today to start your journey toward better vision.