Strabismus is a binocular vision disorder in which the eyes don’t work together correctly. A person with strabismus will have eyes that don’t align, and you will see the person’s eye turn in, out, up or down independently from the other one. You may see this happening all the time or intermittently.
Strabismus can cause amblyopia. When the eyes don’t work together, and one points in a different direction, the brain receives 2 different visual images. The brain may ignore the image from the misaligned eye to avoid double vision, this results in underdeveloped vision which in turn can cause serious reading and learning problems later in life.
There are two different kinds of strabismus:
Esotropia – in which one or both eyes turn inward. The condition can be constantly present, or occur intermittently, and can give the affected individual a “cross-eyed” appearance.
Exotropia – in which one or both eyes turn outward. It is the opposite of crossed eyes.
Another symptom of strabismus is double vision. When the eyes don’t orient the same direction and receive two sets of information you might see double or “ghost” images. When your eyes point in two directions either your brain receives two sets of input or it shuts one eye off and only takes in input from one eye. Double vision occurs when your brain continues to get input from both eyes.
Strabismus can be present in very young children and babies as a result of their new and developing visual systems. It is influenced by genetics, so if you have a family history of strabismus, your child is more likely to develop it. It can be detected in any well-baby checkup, but all children should also have a formal vision screening in the preschool years.
Strabismus, when detected early, can be treated and no long-term effects are necessary.