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Strabismus is the medical term given to issues of the eye where the eyes do not symmetrically match each other. Casually called cross eyed, strabismus is a condition, not a disease. Strabismus is usually represented by a noticeable misalignment when the patient is attempting to maintain focus on an object or person.


Strabismus doesn’t have any actual symptoms, with the exception of the distinct “crossing” of the eye or sideways glance one eye seems to adhere to when trying to focus. In rare cases, double vision, the loss of depth perception, or uncoordinated movements of the eyes can occur.

Children with strabismus are likely not receiving visual input from the eye to the brain. This can lead to perpetual vision loss from that eye if not corrected. Children also tend to experience other disorders associated with strabismus such as Cerebral palsy, congenital rubella, Prader-Willi syndrome, Apert syndrome, traumatic brain injury, retinopathy of prematurity, retinoblastoma, hemangioma of the eye during infancy, Noonan syndrome, Trisomy 18, and incontinentia pigmenti syndrome.
Image: Strabismus


Adults with strabismus are likely to have other syndromes, illnesses, or diseases as well, especially if they did not develop strabismus in childhood. Adults who come down with a sudden and unexplained strabismus should consult a physician. It can be a symptom of numerous conditions. Many adults with strabismus also have conditions such as vision loss from disease or injury, traumatic brain injuries, Guillian-Barre syndrome, botulism, diabetes, stroke, and paralytic shellfish poisoning.


A physical examination is used in diagnosing strabismus, and other tests may follow if it likely that it is an indicator of other diseases or conditions. The examination is detailed, which will likely involve the patient looking through a prism which can help identify what the eye actually sees. The extraocular muscles will be tested as a method of determining the strength of the eye. Sometimes strabismus can be confused for lazy eye, which is not the same thing. Lazy eye is a muscular weakness of the eye. A standard ophthalmic examination is usually administered as well as a retinal examination, a visual acuity examination, and a neurological examination may be administered as well. If the patient is showing signs of other physical conditions and diseases, tests to determine their overall health and rule out disease or trauma can be administered.

Complications of strabismus are likely to include the loss of vision in one eye as well the social discomfort of wearing an eye patch, especially for children.


Treatment of strabismus may include an initial attempt to strengthen the eye muscles through a series of exercises. Should this attempt fail, surgery may be performed to realign the eye. Additionally, medical conditions or diseases that have contributed to the case of strabismus require professional attention. In some cases where amblyopia is the cause (which is vision preference of the brain over one eye in children) the child may wear an eye patch covering the strong eye to force the brain to learn to see through the failing eye. This can lead to normal eye development and correction of the problem.

Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a successful recovery from the ailment and allow both children and adults to recover completely. The longer the strabismus is permitted to go untreated, the more difficult it becomes to treat the problem effectively. Eventually, permanent vision loss may occur.

Because adults have developed brains, adults do not develop the condition known as amblyopia does not occur. This condition only occurs in young children with developing brains. Children or adults who suddenly develop a wandering eye should receive prompt medical attention.
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