What is Strabismus
Strabismus or tropia are the medical terms for eye conditions commonly called eye turns, crossed eyes, cross-eyed,
wall-eyes, wandering eyes, deviating eye, etc. Strabismus is not the same condition as "lazy eye" (amblyopia).
A strabismus is defined as a condition in which the eyes deviate (turn) when looking at a target that you, the patient, regards.
When the eye turn occurs all of the time, it is called constant strabismus. When the eye turn occurs only some of the time, it is called intermittent strabismus. With intermittent strabismus, the eye turn might be only occasionally present, such as during stressful situations or when the person is ill.
What are the symptoms
Strabismus causes one of they eyes to deviate (turn) and is often referred to as cross-eyes. If a person's two eyes are not aligned (strabismic) three different things can happen:
- The patient will see double because the two eyes are not aimed at the same point.
- one of the eyes can suppress or turn off (in the brain) to avoid double vision (technically called diplopia).
This condition is called suppression.
- The brain can develop a new match with each eye so that fusion occurs even though the eyes are not aimed at the same spot. This last phenomenon is known as anomalous retinal correspondence. It occurs early in life and will almost never occur if the strabismus develops after four years of age.
If the eye turn develops after the age of 6 then suppression, confusion, and/or anomalous retinal correspondence will not occur.
If any of these three sensory conditions occur, then the eyes are not working together and can not have normal stereopsis. The only way to eliminate these obstacles to fusion and stereopsis is with orthoptics or Eyerobics.
The longer suppression has been in effect, the more difficult it will be for the patient to eliminate and re-establish normal binocular vision. Early detection and treatment is very important in all cases of strabismus.
What causes Strabismus
Many things and/or events can cause a strabismus. They include inappropriate development of the "fusion center" of the brain, problems with the controlled center of the brain, injuries to muscles or nerves or other problems involving the muscles or nerves.
Treatment should be directed at the source of the problem. The eye doctor must determine if the strabismus is due to an eye muscle problem or a brain problem. Sometimes, bifocals are needed to eliminate the eye turn.
Strabismus is classified into many different types. Each type has its own causes, characteristics, and appropriate treatment plan. The different types are: esotropia, exotropia, hypertropia and Duane's Syndrome.
Convergence Insufficiency, if untreated, can cause an outward eye turn that comes and goes (intermittent exotropia). Convergence Insufficiency (CI) is also the leading cause of eyestrain, blurry vision, double vision (diplopia), and/or headaches. Nevertheless, most people have never heard of this visual condition.
How is strabismus diagnosed
doctors generally look for the presence of a strabismus when looking at distance (20 feet or more); at near (16 inches for an adult and 13 inches for a child); and the lateral and vertical directions (up, down, left, or right).
How can Strabismus be treated
Constant turns must be dealt with immediately if one wants to re-establish proper use of the eyes. Treatment for this condition needs to be early and aggressive. If the eye turn is constant and simple things like patching, glasses (bifocal, prismatic, etc) do not eliminate the eye turn, either vision therapy or surgery needs to be considered. Keep in mind that surgeons like to perform surgery and often do not consider other treatment options. The best way to treat each infant/or child must be determined and discussed with the parent.
With intermittent strabismus, the eye does not turn in all the time, so the brain is probably receiving appropriate stimulation for the development of binocular vision.
After 6 months of age, this condition does need attention, but neither the eye doctor nor parent needs to panic. As long as the eyes are straight some of the time, the brain will develop normal functioning of the eyes (stereoscopic depth perception). Children with intermittent eye turns should be handled with judicious patching, special glasses, and vision therapy like Eyerobics.
How can Eyerobics help
The Eyerobics program is a program of eye exercises based on the Bates Method. This is a well known method developed by Dr William Bates in the 20's.
The eye exercises are designed to address most eye disorders including strabismus by improving the function of both your eye muscles and at the same time relaxing them. The focus on improving your eye muscles enables your eyes to re-align themselves. Eyerobics has been very effective in restoring clear sight for people with strabismus as well as preventing amblyopia or lazy eye, often a result of strabismus.
"After four eye operations, 25 years in glasses and contact lenses, and still having problems I discovered Eyerobics.
In 2 weeks I started getting results and such clear vision that I removed my contact lenses and have never used them since. I made a visit to my eye specialist in Melbourne. I wanted an unbiased opinion so I didn't mention what I had been doing.
After he examined me, he told me my eyes were great and I wouldn't need glasses or contacts again. I couldn't be happier with the results, so simple and yet noticing each day the major improvements."
Tracey McIvor - Euroa, Victoria.