Strabismus is the official term for crossed eyes. Other names include: tropia, eye turns, wall eyed and wandering eye. It is a condition where your eyes look in different directions, with each eye focusing on different objects. It is caused by a miscommunication between the brain and the muscles around the eye.
Types of Crossed Eyes
There are two types of crossed eyes that are common in children (one develops in infancy and the other develops as the child gets older):
- Infantile Esotropia appears in babies during their first year of life, where one eye may cross more often than the other. It typically runs in families and usually requires surgery
- Acquired Esotropia occurs in children between the ages of 2 and 5 and can usually be corrected with eyeglasses
Children under the age of six months are likely to experience some form of crossed eyes because their brains are still developing the ability to see normally. They should grow out of it, but if it continues to be a problem after six months, the child should receive treatment immediately to prevent it from getting worse. Early diagnosis is important for preventing vision loss. If left untreated, it can also cause double vision, eye strain, headaches and attention problems. If other symptoms appear along with crossed eyes, your doctor may examine for brain and nervous system disorders in order to identify the presence of other conditions (e.g. cerebral palsy). In general, it is best for children to have an eye exam before the age of three.
In adults, the condition can be caused by a variety of reasons including brain tumor, retina damage, diabetes or a stroke. As noted above, people with brain or nervous system disorders are generally more likely to have crossed eyes. Additionally, if you have lazy eye, which is not to be confused with crossed eyes, it is possible to develop the condition because your eyes must train in order to focus on objects.
Treatment for crossed eyes depends on the severity and cause of the condition. Common treatments include eye drops, eye patches, eye exercises, vision therapy and, in extreme cases, surgery. Most of the time, crossed eyes can be corrected if caught early enough. The condition may recur, so it is important to monitor it regularly.
For more information on crossed eyes, reach out to Compton Eye Associates.