Strabismus, often referred to as an eye turn or cross-eye, is a condition that describes the improper alignment of the eyes. The deviation of one eye is often due to the lack of coordination between the muscles of the eyes. The inability for both eyes to point in the same direction and feed the brain with the same visual information can result in double vision or the appearance of two images inaccurately overlapping.
To avoid visual confusion, as an adaptation, the brain can learn to suppress or disregard the image seen by the turning eye. The change in behavior causes binocular vision dysfunction and a lack of depth perception, a term that refers to our ability to see in three dimensions.
There are many common misconceptions about eye turns and we wanted to share some below:
- One surgery is all you need. Strabismus (eye turn) is a problem of eye and brain coordination, not a muscle problem. While surgeries may attempt to align the eyes, vision therapy treatment for strabismus is the only way to naturally restore depth perception and retrain the brain while also gaining the alignment of the eyes. Often times if treating with surgery, more than one surgery is needed and developmental optometrists would always recommend vision therapy after surgery for proper brain and eye communication, similar to how you would do physical therapy after other surgeries.
- Fixing an eye turn doesn’t fix your vision. Some people believe eye turns are a muscle problem, or that the issue is merely appearance or alignment. However, a result of this condition is a change in vision due to the brain suppressing the image from one eye. Simply fixing the alignment does not necessarily restore proper vision, as the brain has to be trained to use both eyes. Results rely heavily on your active participation and willingness to continue working on your vision consistently. Appropriate feedback with vision therapy teaches your brain to regularly combine information from both eyes, which fuses images more often and repairs 3D vision.
- Eye turns do not need vision therapy. Without vision therapy, the underlying issue is not addressed. Vision therapy for strabismus treatment helps reduce or correct eye misalignment and train the brain to simultaneously use both eyes to merge the images seen by each eye into a single 3D piece of information. Additionally, it reinforces neurological pathways that ensure eye teaming in all gazes and over a range of distances. The team at OCVT is experienced in using vision therapy for strabismus to help children and adults achieve improvements.
- Lazy eye is not an eye turn. Many people, especially parents, believe their child has a lazy eye (amblyopia) and does not have an eye turn (strabismus). People apply lazy eye to both strabismus and amblyopia, which is why it is a confusing phrase to use. Strabismus is known as an “eye turn” and is an issue with the two eyes not lining up on the same thing at the exact same angle and time the way the brain intended them to. Amblyopia is known as “lazy eye” and refers to an eye or both eyes that with the best glasses or contacts in place still has reduced eyesight. Both conditions are functional vision problems which result from poor development of eye teaming. Assuming that a lazy eye is not eye turn can lead to missing the appropriate treatment to fix the underlying problem.
- Glasses can help improve eye turns. Strabismus (eye turn) is an issue of alignment, and glasses alone are not guaranteed to fix the alignment. Many people believe that glasses alone will correct their eye turn, but vision therapy is required to address the underlying problem and restore vision.
- Prisms cure eye turns. Some believe that prisms in glasses can cure an eye turn. While prisms can help support treating eye turns, they cannot solve the problem alone. In addition, they can cause blurred vision that does not address the visual issues caused by eye turn and a person’s vision can adjust to the prism and keep needing more and more overtime which can make the condition worse.
- Eye turns are easy to notice. Most people believe that eye turns are noticeable, perhaps thinking of extreme cases. But many eye turns are difficult to notice. The only way to be sure is to complete a thorough exam at OCVT at the first sign of strabismus, whether a visual condition is apparent or not. All of the following could be a sign of eye turn:
- Reversing and transposing of numbers and letters
- Headaches, dizziness, and nausea
- Burning, itching, red, or watery eyes
- Eyes moving independently of one another
- Crossing or turning inward of one or more eyes
- Turning outward of one or more eyes
- An Eye turning up or down
- Double vision
- Poor depth perception
What Will Vision Therapy Treatment for Strabismus Be Like?
A developmental optometrist will tailor an exercise plan to the severity of your strabismus and your visual strengths. He or she will then guide you through exercise sessions and monitor your progress to determine the next steps.
Exercises may include:
- Convergence exercises
- Focus shifting
- Gaze maintenance
- Eye patching with specific tasks
- Technology based stimulation of both eyes together
- 3-D vision based technology
How Do I Schedule an Appointment for Strabismus Treatment?
Come into the location nearest you or call during our office hours to talk with us directly, or reach us by filling out the form on our Contact Us page. We encourage you to complete a Complimentary Consultation at OCVT at the first sign of strabismus in infants and toddlers, whether a visual condition is apparent or not to prevent further severity over time. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us if you cope with adult strabismus.
We’re waiting at your nearest location to help you begin your treatment as soon as possible!