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Strabismus means that both eyes don't look at the same thing at the same time. One eye may look straight ahead while the other eye looks in another direction. It is sometimes called "cross-eye" or "walleye."
It occurs when the eye muscles don't work together to move both eyes in the same direction at the same time. This sends two different images to the brain. In a young child with strabismus, the brain chooses to receive the images from only one eye.
Childhood strabismus often has no known cause, though it tends to run in families. Sometimes it develops when the eyes try to make up for other vision problems. Other things that can put a child at risk for strabismus include an illness that affects the muscles and nerves, premature birth, Down syndrome, a head injury, and other problems.
Treatment should begin as soon as possible. The younger your child is when treatment starts, the better the chances are of correcting the problem.
When one eye isn't used enough, the visual system in the brain may not develop as it should. The brain may ignore the images from the weaker eye and use only the images from the stronger eye. This can lead to poor vision in the weaker eye.
The most common signs are:
The most common treatments are:
Other treatments may include medicines and eye exercises.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: May 5, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur MD MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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