Strabismus is a common eye condition among children that occurs when the eyes are not aligned properly. It may appear in children as young as 6 months old, known as congenital strabismus, but it can also appear later in childhood and due to other causes. These include inadequate functioning of the ocular muscles, a refractive error such as myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism, or diseases that affect the retina and the optic nerve including cataracts. Those affected by strabismus are commonly referred to as cross-eyed because the condition causes the eyes to turn inward (exotropia), outward (esotropia) or become vertically misaligned (hypertropia). Early diagnosis is essential to avoid strabismus progressing to amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. Untreated amblyopia can cause permanent vision loss.
Can strabismus lead to learning issues in children? Most of what children learn in a traditional school environment is presented in a visual format. This means that approximately 80% of learning is processed through vision. Therefore, good vision is important for academic success. Strabismus in children is related to how the eye focuses. The inability to focus combined with double or blurred vision can make learning new concepts difficult. If strabismus develops into amblyopia, that lazy eye is unable to achieve normal visual acuity and has poor depth perception which can make reading difficult. A child with a lazy eye may strain to focus and find trouble with reading that includes skipping words, re-reading words, losing their place while reading, misreading words, substituting words and/or adding words to the sentences.
In addition to many schools offering support services to aid children in their learning, with early detection and vision therapy, children with strabismus and amblyopia can achieve clear and comfortable vision with both eyes. A doctor of optometry or ophthalmology can diagnose strabismus through a comprehensive eye exam. Testing for strabismus includes special emphasis on how the eyes focus and move. Treatment will depend upon the type of strabismus and the underlying cause. Options include eye patching, prism glasses, eyeglasses and vision therapy. Vision therapy reinforces the eye and brain connection to effectively train the eyes to move and focus more effectively.
For a routine eye exam to determine any vision abnormalities, contact Pendleton Eye by calling 760-758-2008 or visiting WEBSITE.