Strabismus or misaligned eyes is a condition in which each eye appears to look in a different direction. It is commonly termed ‘lazy eyes’, misaligned eyes’, ‘wandering eyes’, or ‘crossed eyes’. One eye may look straight ahead and the other eye turns inward, outward or downward. Dr. Wasserman examines and treats strabismus in children and adults.
Misaligned eyes is a common condition among children occurring equally in males and females. About 4% of all children in the US have strabismus. It may run in families, but many people with strabismus have no relative with the same problem. The exact cause of strabismus is not fully known. Six eye muscles control eye movements and are attached to the outside of each eye.
In each eye, particular muscles move the eye to the left, right, up, down and at angles. To align both eyes properly, all the muscles in each eye must be balanced and working together. In order for the eyes to move properly together, the muscles in both eyes must be coordinated.
The brain controls these muscles; therefore, strabismus is more common among children with certain disorders that affect the brain. A child born prematurely, or with other disabilities like cerebral palsy, may be more at risk. Most children with strabismus do not have other problems, but Dr. Wasserman will throroughly evaluate each child’s particular issues.
Treatment for strabismus or misaligned eyes involves straightening the eyes and attempting to make them work together (binocularly). If you or your pediatrician suspects your child may have a lazy eye, Dr. Wasserman will conduct a thorough examination. After diagnosis, Dr. Wasserman will recommend the appropriate treatment.
Sometimes eyeglasses will help straighten the eye, and patching one eye is sometimes utilized to improve vision in the other eye. Eye muscle exercises are also suggested for certain types of strabismus.(see section on Amblyopia) Dr. Wasserman will always take the time to answer all the parents’ questions leading to a plan of treatment that can change a child’s life.
Surgery to balance eye muscles is sometimes the best treatment. Patients sleep through the surgery, and go home the same day. During strabismus surgery there is no cutting of the skin, and therefore no scars on the skin afterwards. Dr. Wasserman repositions the eye muscles on the sides of the eye, depending on which direction the eye is misaligned. Sutures are generally dissolvable, and patients go home with eyes open, without need for eye patches. Recovery is usually rapid with most children resuming their normal activities in just a few days.
Many adults also have problems with a crossed eye. Some simply never had the condition treated as a child, while in others the condition may have worsened into adulthood. Some adults have had strabismus surgery as a child, but the eyes began to drift again years later. Sadly, many people think that strabismus cannot be treated as an adult, but that is absolutely false.
Amazingly, they may have been told that the misalignment is only cosmetic and will not be paid for by insurance carriers. That too, is simply not true. Eye muscle surgery is almost always covered by medical insurance, and has nothing to do with a ‘vision plan.’ Eye muscle surgery is not painful and does not require a lot of time away from work or school. Most patients have minimal discomfort, and are back to work in a couple of days.