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Strabismus occurs when eye muscle dysfunction, neurological issues, or farsightedness cause the eyes to cross, diverge, or be vertically misaligned. Risk factors for strabismus include children with cerebral palsy, infants born premature, or individuals with a family history of strabismus. Your optometrists at Visionary Eye Care can diagnose strabismus by evaluating how light reflects off a patient's eyes, specifically their pupil. If light does not center on the eye's pupil correctly, strabismus may be impacting the eyes' ability to converge normally.
Your eyes are controlled by multiple muscles that work together to focus the eyes on one object. When these muscles fail to work together, one eye will look at something as the other eye wanders in different directions, trying to focus on other objects. Consequently, strabismus causes two dissimilar image signals to be sent to your brain, which does not understand how to interpret different images coming from eyes that should converge and focus on one thing. In most cases of childhood strabismus, the problem is with eye muscle control and not eye muscle strength. This means strabismus can be treated by your optometrist using techniques to retrain the eye muscles.
Although not as common as childhood strabismus, strabismus in adults may be caused by diabetes, botulism, stroke, Graves disease, or eye trauma. Treatment may not be as successful for adults as it is for children with strabismus.
Loss of vision due to untreated strabismus is called amblyopia ("lazy eye"). Amblyopia is categorized as strabismic, refractive (caused by astigmatism, farsightedness or nearsightedness) or deprivational (caused by vision deprivation disorders occurring in childhood, such as congenital cataracts). In addition to reduced visual acuity, people with amblyopia may also suffer color/contrast sensitivity, spatial distortions, and inability to determine the shape of an object.
Your optometrist may prescribe eyeglasses to help support muscle control of the eyes. To treat amblyopia, patches are worn over the "good" eye so the eye affected by strabismus works harder to view single objects. If glasses or patches do not work, surgery may be recommended to repair abnormal muscles. However, eye muscle surgery will not be successful if amblyopia is not treated first.
Delaying strabismus treatment may result in permanent vision loss. Children with amblyopia who are not treated by the time they are 12 years old could also suffer permanent vision loss. Parents of children with strabismus will need to have their children monitored closely by their eye doctor since strabismus is likely to re-develop in the future.
Schedule an eye exam today for you or your child calling Visionary Eye Care at (813) 425-9596.
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