Eye alignment problems can vary from crossed eyes, misaligned eyes, or wall eyes. In order to fully understand what eye alignment problems are, we need to begin by properly defining the term.
With that being said, different terms are used for different conditions. For example, crossed eyes is commonly referred to as strabismus, while a lazy eye is medically referred to as amblyopia. As such, we must learn the definition of both before we begin.
From there, we will work together to identify the symptoms and causes of each condition, then conclude with how to treat both. After reading this article, you’ll have a high-level understanding of the most common eye alignment problems seen in the United States.
Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)
No one in the medical world will diagnose a patient with crossed eyes as having an eye alignment problem. Instead, they might say that you have a condition called strabismus.
Strabismus is a condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time, usually developed in infants and young children. The condition, however, can develop in adults and older children.
What Causes Strabismus?
Eye movement is controlled by six muscles that receive signals from the brain for direction. In a healthy eye, the eyes will work together to focus on one object at a time.
However, the eyes of someone with strabismus may point in different directions. This could be due to family history, a refractive error, or other medical conditions.
Symptoms of strabismus are difficult to spot as the affected eye may switch each time. Generally, someone with strabismus will display the following symptoms:
- Crossed eyes
- Experience frequent double vision
- Eyes that do not align in the same direction
- Uncoordinated eye movements
- Loss of vision or depth perception
Some of these symptoms may not be experienced in children as amblyopia can be developed extremely quickly.
What in The World is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia can develop from any condition that results in blurred vision. Amblyopia results in the inability of one eye to focus as well as the other one. Because of this, the brain begins to ignore the one eye and vision is reduced.
This is dangerous in kids as their brains are not fully developed, leaving them to believe this is the way their eyesight should be. The eye itself often appears to be normal, however, the brain favors the other eye for various reasons.
What Causes Amblyopia & How Common is it?
Amblyopia is the most common eye condition amongst children. Unless treated early, the condition may persist into adulthood. As such, it is also the most common one eye (monocular) visual impairment among young adults.
As previously mentioned, it is caused by any condition that renders the eyes ability to focus properly. Typically, it is developed due to strabismus that has not been diagnosed in children.
Symptoms of amblyopia may be similar to those of strabismus. As such, it is important to have your Optometrist examine you or the person affected for a proper diagnosis.
The symptoms of amblyopia include:
- Poor vision in one eye, or overall
- Poor depth perception
- Inward or outward wandering eye
Getting Treatment Before it’s Too Late
Prescribed glasses are usually adequate enough to treat strabismus in children. If the case of strabismus has developed into amblyopia, further treatment is required.
Amblyopia is treated by placing a patch over the better eye to train the brain to use the weaker eye. If the eyes still do not work correctly, surgery may be required in order to correct the eye muscles.