Strabismus (squint)

Specialty of Ophthalmology

What is strabismus?

Strabismus, also known as crossed eyes, or a 'squint', is the deviation of the line of sight of one of the two eyes. Whilst one eye directs its gaze towards a particular object, the other is pointed in another direction. This is both a visual and aesthetic problem.

Strabismus can be classified into two types, based on the direction of the eyes:

  • Converging strabismus : It occurs when the eye points inward.
  • Diverging strabismus : It occurs when the eye points outward.

Prognosis:

In most cases, the problem can be corrected if it is detected and treated early. If treatment is delayed, permanent vision loss may occur in one eye. If amblyopia or commonly known as ‘lazy eye' is not treated by age 11, it is likely to be permanent. About one-third of children with strabismus will have amblyopia as the underlying cause.

Symptoms of strabismus:

Symptoms of strabismus may include:

  • Crossed eyes
  • Double vision
  • Impaired vision
  • Uncoordinated eye movements (eyes do not move together)
  • Loss or decreased depth perception

Medical tests for strabismus:

A physical examination, including a detailed examination of the eyes, is usually performed.

The following tests are performed to determine how misaligned the eyes are:

  • Corneal reflex when exposed to light
  • Cover/uncover test
  • Examination of the retina
  • Standard ophthalmic exam
  • Visual acuity test (tests how well you can read from a distance)

A brain and nervous system (neurological) examination will also be done if other symptoms present.

What causes strabismus?

Many adult patients who suffer from strabismus experience this condition from childhood, although in a controlled manner. However, in most cases, strabismus has its origin in other diseases such as:

Occasionally, strabismus may result following eye surgery, such as cataract surgery, retinal detachment surgery, eyelid surgery, etc. due to unwanted involvement of the extraocular muscles during these procedures.

Can strabismus be prevented?

Strabismus is a disease that cannot be prevented. The best option is to treat it from its diagnosis to avoid possible loss of vision. If your child suffers from amblyopia, make sure it is treated.

Treatments for strabismus:

As this is a deviation that occurs from a very early age, it is crucial that measures are taken as quickly as possible to prevent it from leading to complications.

To treat this disorder there are multiple techniques such as:

  • Wearing an eye patch
  • Eye exercises
  • Wearing special glasses
  • Corrective lenses
  • Surgery to correct certain eye muscles. This is usually reserved for more severe cases that have not responded to other treatments.

Which specialist treats strabismus?

Ophthalmologists are in charge of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases that affect the eyes and the visual capacity of the patient, such as strabismus. The eyes are the essential organ of vision and are susceptible to many abnormalities throughout life. 

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