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Strabismus

Image of a cross-eyed young girl.

Commonly called crossed eyes, strabismus is a condition in which eyes do not work together, failing to maintain proper alignment. While one eye focuses on an object, the other does not. The failure of the eyes to work together causes double vision, and if untreated can lead to an extreme reduction of vision in one eye, amblyopia. Strabismus is classified by the direction of misalignment, frequency, and the eye or eyes in which strabismus occurs. These classifications include:

  • Esotropia - inward turning eye
  • Exotropia - outward turning eye
  • Hypertropia - upward turning eye
  • Hypotropia - downward turning eye

Strabismus is further classified by the frequency of the condition (constant or intermittent), whether one (unilateral) or both eyes (alternating) show signs of strabismus, and the degree of the turn (large or small angle).

Causes

Six external (extraocular) muscles control each eye's movement and position. In order for binocular vision to work properly, the positioning, function, and neurological control of these muscles must work together perfectly to control the eyes. An anatomical problem, neurological condition, or trouble with the center of the brain which controls binocular vision can make it difficult to control the extraocular muscles, leading to strabismus.

Individuals with uncorrected farsightedness can also develop strabismus. If the eyes are overly strained while attempting to focus on a distant object, they can become crossed. This condition is known as accommodative esotropia, and can usually be treated with corrective lenses.

Genetics also play a prominent role in strabismus. Those with a parent who has strabismus have a much greater chance of developing the condition themselves. In addition, certain medical conditions such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and stroke put individuals at a higher risk or developing strabismus.

Signs and Symptoms

The most prominent sign of strabismus is the misalignment of eyes, which can lead to amblyopia and vision problems. Small angle strabismus often leads to eye strain and headaches. In addition, strabismus often causes young sufferers significant emotional stress, as it affects the ability to make normal eye contact with others.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Eye care professionals diagnose strabismus using a series of tests: visual acuity, refraction, alignment and focusing, and an examination of eye health. Once strabismus is diagnosed, it can be treated according to its cause and severity. A case of accommodative esotropia can be corrected with glasses, but more serious cases of strabismus might require muscle surgery and vision therapy.

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Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I thoroughly enjoyed my visit! I see an optometrist every year and I received care at her office that I've never received anywhere! I had my eyes dilated for the 1st time to make sure everything was ok. It was offered to me & covered by my insurance. I realize the importance of my vision and was very pleased with the care I received!"
    Andrea Walker
  • "First of all, the atmosphere was welcoming....(very important to me). The receptionist worked with us and was very patient due to the fact we haven't seen an optometrist in a while....and Dr. Norwood took extra time out to explain things that was unclear to me (for myself and my child). I expect the type of care she provided.
    My last experience (elsewhere) was rough, which is why it took me so long to see another eye Dr.
    Dr. Norwood is a great example for all optometrists and her staff as well. Thanks again..."
    Erika T Collins
  • "I love this Doctor. I thank God that i brought my baby to her. Because she saw some things that were going on behind her eye's. She told me to take her to the er asap. I did my baby almost die on me. But i thank God for sending me to her. I feel like she was my baby Angel. Thank u so much. Doctor Norwood."
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