Strabismus is the technical term for misaligned eyes, also known as squint.
This condition can happen at any age. The squinting eye may turn inwards (convergent) or outwards (divergent), or one eye can be higher than the other. Strabismus can result in decreased binocular or stereo (3D) vision, and children with strabismus can also develop a lazy eye.
Causes of Strabismus
Squints are most commonly caused by an imbalance in how the brain coordinates the eyes. It can also be caused by abnormal spectacle power (eg. high hyperopia or myopia), or anything that obscures the vision in one eye (eg. childhood cataracts or other eye abnormalities).
Occasionally, squints can results from an abnormality of the nerves supplying the eye muscles or an abnormality in the eye muscles or surrounding tissues within the eye socket.
Treatments of Strabismus
The longer the misalignment of the eyes goes untreated, the more difficult it becomes to correct. Treatment varies with the type of squint present.
Your doctor may recommend one or more of these treatments:
- Prescription glasses and fusion exercises
- Prism lenses
- Covering or patching the stronger eye to strengthen the weaker one
- Surgery to correct unbalanced eye muscles,
Some kinds of strabismus can be treated with glasses and some kinds do not require treatment, but most forms of strabismus will not improve without surgery. Most patients are able to be managed with a single operation, although some require more than one procedure.
Strabismus surgery is a day procedure. It is usually performed under general anesthesia, but sometimes it can be done by an injectable local anesthetic or anesthetic eyedrops. General anesthesia is required when the patient is a child. Children usually bounce back within only a few days but may still need glasses after surgery.
The surgeon will make a small incision in the outer covering of the eye to access the outer or extraocular muscles. The measurements from the preoperative preparation will be used as a guide for how much correction needs to be made. In some cases, both eyes may be treated during the surgery.