Childhood is by far the most important time in shaping a person's future. Like other physical developments during this period, eye and vision developments will affect them for their entire lives. It is very important for parents to be aware and keep watch for signs that may indicate problems with their child's vision. Below we discuss a condition among children called Strabismus, which is quite common among children, as well as some common conditions resulting from Strabismus.
Strabismus and its most closely related “brother” condition, Amblyopia share many of the same symptoms, the most obvious being eyes which do not both face the same way, or do not move together. A child may also tilt his head or squint in order to compensate for poor sight in the weaker eye, and may also eventually exhibit loss of depth perception.
Strabismus is a condition in which your child's eyes are not aligned. This happens when muscles that control eye movements are either misaligned or underdeveloped. This is a common occurrence in children who suffer from additional conditions that impact their development, such as cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, prematurity or brain tumors.
Children often develop amblyopia as a result of untreated strabismus. Amblyopia, sometimes known as lazy eye, is a condition involving very poor eyesight in one eye as a result of poor development. Normally, two healthy eyes see only a slightly different image of what is being viewed and each eye sends its individual view to the brain. Because the images are basically similar, with only slight variation because of perspective, the brain is able to combine these two views into a single interpreted image. This process is called binocular fusion. With strabismus, the images from the misaligned eyes are entirely different. This causes binocular fusion to be extremely difficult or even impossible. If left untreated, your child's brain learns to deal with the confusion of different images by choosing to entirely ignore images coming from one of the eyes, making this eye either very weak or functionally blind. This eye becomes the one referred to as the “lazy” eye.
Convergence and Accommodative Insufficiency are another two related conditions. Dr. NAME, of PRACTICE in CITY explains, “Sometimes the eyes are unable to properly turn inward enough to converge successfully on a single point when looking close up. This difficulty is called convergence insufficiency, and is often due to complications related to strabismus. Other times, the eyes are unable to hold sufficient focus on objects in close vision. This is referred to as accomodative insufficiency, and is not a defect in the eye itself, but rather a problem with maintaining accurate, comfortable focus on objects close up. Convergence and Accommodative Insufficiency are often connected.”
Symptoms for Convergence and Accommodative Insufficiency include Headaches, difficulty reading, and poor concentration.
Vision Therapy for Strabismus
Strabismus is one of the most common eye conditions that we treat with vision therapy. Strabismus is generally diagnosed during early childhood. It is associated with misalignment of the eyes, caused by muscle weakness in one eye. The primary symptom of strabismus can be seen when one eye looks straight, while the other looks inward, outward, up or down.
If you notice misaligned eyes, your child needs a complete eye exam from a pediatric optometrist. Binocular vision and depth perception are achieved when the two eyes work together. Sometimes, weak eye muscles and poor eye control can lead to a loss of depth perception if strabismus is not treated promptly.
Vision therapy has proven to be an effective method of strengthening the weakened eye muscles, straightening out the eyes and, in many cases, avoiding surgery altogether. At Vizen Optometric Center, we provide vision therapy for strabismus, as well as other, more minor, eye disorders.