Strabismus ( crossed eye )

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Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes and therefore both eyes do not look at the same object at the same time. This eye condition is commonly known as crossed eyes. Children do not outgrow  strabismus. Early detection and treatment is advised. If strabismus is not treated , the eye that the brain ignores will never see well and this results in  amblyopia also known as lazy eye.


There are six different muscles that surround the eyes and these muscles must work together for the eye to focus on the same object. In the case of someone with strabismus, the muscles do not work together so as a result one eye looks at one object and the other eye focuses on another object. Two images are therefore sent to the brain and this confuses the brain. The brain therefore ignores the image from the weaker eye. The cause of this eye condition is unknown but in more that half of the cases, it is present shortly after birth. This is known as congenital strabismus.

Other disorders associated with strabismus in children include

  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • cerebral palsy
  • Hemangioma near the eye during infancy
  • Incontinentia pigmenti syndrome
  • Noonan syndrome
  • Retinopathy of prematurity
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Trisomy 18
  • Apert syndrome

In adults this disease can be induced by these conditions.

  • botulism
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • stroke
  • traumatic brain injury
  • diabetes
  • eye injury
  • shell fish poisoning

People with a family history of this disease may be at risk. Being farsighted or having any disease that can lead to vision loss can also put you at risk.


Symptoms of strabismus includes the following :

  • uncoordinated eye movement
  • eyes that do not align
  • crossed eye
  • vision perception loss
  • double vision


A physical exam which includes a detailed eye exam can detect this condition. Eye tests that may be done include corneal light reflex, retinal exam, cover/uncover test, standard ophthalmic exam and visual acuity. A neurological exam may also be performed.


Treatment is aimed at equalizing vision and aligning the eyes. Children may be given prescription glasses if needed. Children with lazy eyes are given a patch over the better eye to force the weak eye to work better. Eye surgery may be needed if the eye is still not working well. You should note however that  the child may still wear glasses after surgery.

Adults with mild forms of this disease need glasses and eye exercise. In the case of a more severe form, surgery may be needed.

Strabismus. The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Accessed December 8, 2013

Strabismus. The National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Accessed December 9, 2013

What is strabismus. Optometrists Network. Accessed December 9, 2013

Strabismus. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Accessed December 9, 2013

The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved December 2013 from website.

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