Strabismus

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Strabismus (turned eye or lazy eye)​​

A Strabismus (turned eye) is a term used to describe a condition where both eyes are not looking in the same direction. One eye looks at the object of interest, whilst the other eye looks in another direction (often in towards the nose or out towards the ear).​

  • It affects between 2-4% of the population
  • It occurs equally in male and females
  • It only affects one eye. One eye will always be looking in the right direction

A Strabismus can occur at birth, in early childhood (3 – 4 years) or after injury or illness. The eye turn may be more noticeable when the child is tired or unwell. Those most at risk are children with developmental or neurological disorders, with decreased vision or with a family history of eye turns. An eye turn can also occur for no apparent reason.
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How does a strabismus affect vision?
Good vision in each eye develops when both eyes look at the same object. When one eye turns, two different pictures are sent to the brain.

  • If a strabismus occurs prior the visual system maturing, then the brain learns to ignore the image from the eye that is turning. As a result, vision in the turned eye is weaker than the other eye. This condition is called AMBLYOPIA (see information sheet on Amblyopia). If amblyopia is not treated early (prior to age of 8 years), then poor vision in the turned eye will persist and remain untreatable.
  • If a strabismus occurs after the visual system has matured then it is likely that you will experience double vision.

How is an eye turn treated?

  • The cause of the eye turn is established first.
  • The need for glasses is evaluated and prescribed if necessary. Sometimes glasses can reduce or eliminate the eye turn.
  • If amblyopia exists, then occlusion therapy is prescribed to improve the vision. It will not correct the eye turn.
  • If the eye turn can be corrected surgically (i.e. straightened so that both eyes are looking in the same direction), then this is recommended by the eye doctor. The surgery can be performed for cosmetic reasons to avoid teasing by other children and to help with social skills and self-esteem.