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Learning About Strabismus in Children

Child with right eye looking toward nose and left eye looking straight ahead.

What is strabismus?

Strabismus is a condition in which 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 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.

What are the symptoms?

The most common signs are eyes that don't look in the same direction at the same time and eyes that don't move together. Your child may also squint or close one eye in bright sunlight. They may tilt or turn their head to look at things. And they may bump into things.

How is strabismus in children diagnosed?

A doctor can often tell that a child has strabismus just by looking at the child's eyes. It may be obvious that the eyes don't look in the same direction at the same time. The doctor may have the child look at an object while covering and then uncovering each eye.

How is it treated?

Common treatments for strabismus are glasses for mild strabismus or a temporary eye patch to make the weak eye stronger. Other treatments may include medicines and eye exercises. Surgery on the eye muscles can also be done. The earlier you start treatment, the better chances you have of correcting the problem.

Where can you learn more?

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