Cross eye/ Strabismus

Probably you might have noticed that your baby’s one eye is looking straight at you while the other eye seems to be wandering- either looking in, out, up or down. I am sure as a parent this can really keep you worried and I’ m sure you will have all sorts of queries in your mind.

Misalignment of the eyes or strabismus is very common  and it can occur in kids as well. Nearly 1 in 20 kids have it. The good thing is strabismus can be treated and corrected if it is diagnosed early. But if as a parent you start ignoring it, then your baby’s brain will slowly start ignoring the images they receive from the weaker eye and this will lead to amblyopia. This can also make the child’s vision blurry, cause double vision and even lead to a permanent loss of vision.

Why did my kid get it?              

You must be wondering how your kid got it. Well let me share with you the most common causes.

  • Most of kids with crossed eye are diagnosed between 1 to 4 years of age. A child who has a family history of strabismus, either parent, grandparents, siblings are more prone to it.
  • Children who have far sightedness
  • Kids who have had trauma to the eyes or congenital cataract
  • Kids with neurological defects or abnormalities in the development of the brain. Kids with conditions like Down’ syndrome, cerebral palsy, premature babies, brain injuries are more likely susceptible

What are the different types of strabismus?

Esotropia: this is the most common type among kids. One or both eye turns inwards towards the nose

Exotropia: here one or both eyes turn outwards away from the nose

Hypertropia: in this condition one eye is higher than the other

Hypotropia: here the abnormal eye is lower than the normal eye.

 Symptoms

As a parent you might have noticed that you child does not have misalignment of the eyes all the time. They might have it when they are really tired or just looking at something for a long time. Infact most kids with strabismus do not complain of any eye problems.

  • Some kids complain of seeing double vision- they see two objects instead of one.
  • They have difficulty in seeing things and focusingon images.  They also have difficulty in reading, writing and learning.
  • Small babies might squint their eyes more frequently or they might  tend to tilt their head to one side to see things better.

Treatment

So how do you go about it?  Strabismus can be corrected.  Well  I think that is some fantastic news right!!!

1. Eye glasses:  sometimes wearing eye glasses of the correct power after consulting your ophthalmologist can easily correct the misalignment.

2. Eye patch: an eye patch may be given to the child to be worn over the normal eye for a couple of hours.  This makes the weaker eye to see things forcefully and over a period of time it gradually strengthens the muscles and vision.

I know it sounds easy but getting your baby to wear an eye patch or glass is certainly a tedious task. But trust me you can do it and your baby will gradually adapt to it. Just give it time but don’t give up.

3. Eye drops: this is another option. We use atropine eye drops in the normal eye. The drops will  temporarily cause blurring of vision in the normal eye and thus makes the weaker eye to see things.

 Generally the above options really help most of the kids to correct their strabismus. But if it does not then eye muscle surgery is the next option.  The surgical procedure involves loosening or tightening  of the eye muscles that causes the eye to wander.

Take home message.

Do not panic if you notice that your baby’ eye seems slightly misaligned. It is extremely common in the first few months of life as this is the time when your baby’s muscle are slowly developing and strengthening and they trying to focus on the images.

But however let me tell you don’t ignore it. Have a regular check up with your ophthalmologist to rule out any underlying pathology that could also lead to misalignment of the eye. Treatments are available and it can be corrected.  Early diagnosis and treatment is important as it can help your child have straight eyes, good vision and good depth perception.

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