Strabismus in Children: Early Detection and Treatment


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Strabismus, commonly known as crossed or wandering eyes, is a condition characterized by misalignment of the eyes. This misalignment can be constant or intermittent, causing one eye to look straight ahead while the other may turn inward, outward, upward, or downward. It typically manifests early in childhood but can also develop later in life.

Types of Strabismus

There are several types of strabismus:

  • Esotropia: One or both eyes turn inward.
  • Exotropia: One or both eyes turn outward.
  • Hypertropia: One eye turns upward.
  • Hypotropia: One eye turns downward.

Causes of Strabismus

The exact cause of strabismus isn’t always clear, but it can be related to problems with the eye muscles, nerves, or brain. Some common factors include:

  • Muscle imbalance: Weakness or stiffness in the muscles that control eye movement.
  • Refractive errors: Differences in vision quality between the eyes, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
  • Genetics: A family history of strabismus can increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Medical conditions: Certain health issues like cerebral palsy or Down syndrome may be associated with strabismus.

Symptoms of Strabismus

Recognizing the symptoms of strabismus is crucial for early intervention. Symptoms may include:

  • Crossed eyes: Eyes that do not align properly.
  • Double vision: Seeing two images instead of one.
  • Squinting or closing one eye: Especially in bright sunlight or when focusing.
  • Head tilting: A compensatory mechanism to align the eyes.
  • Poor depth perception: Difficulty judging distances accurately.


Shop These Frames Top and Bottom

Diagnosis and Treatment

Early diagnosis of strabismus is essential for effective treatment. An eye care professional, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, can perform a comprehensive eye exam to assess eye alignment and visual acuity. Treatment options may include:

  • Glasses: Correcting refractive errors can sometimes alleviate strabismus.
  • Vision therapy: Exercises and activities designed to improve eye coordination and strengthen eye muscles.
  • Prism lenses: Prism lenses that alter the light entering the eye to reduce double vision.
  • Eye muscle surgery: In cases where other treatments are ineffective, surgical correction of eye muscle alignment may be necessary.


Photo by Antoni Shkraba

Strabismus can impact daily life if left untreated. Early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial in managing strabismus effectively, especially for children. Remember that regular eye exams are important for monitoring eye health and alignment. Today’s treatment options, such as corrective lenses or vision therapy, can alleviate symptoms and allow individuals with strabismus to live fulfilling lives.

Avatar of Ivan Yong

Ivan Yong

Dr. Ivan Yong is an optometrist with over 12 years of experience in the optical industry. He earned his doctorate from the Southern California College of Optometry and has practiced in multiple settings, including private practice, community health, and ophthalmology. Dr. Yong aims to expand access to affordable eyewear and improve eye health worldwide.