The condition of crossing eyes is more common in children, but it can also occur later in life. In older children and adults, crossed eyes can be caused by a variety of underlying medical conditions, like cerebral palsy or stroke. Crossed eyes or in other words, “Lazy Eye” is a condition that affects about four million people in the United States. Some of the ways in which you can get a lazy eye is if one eye is used more than the other or if one eye is crossed or turns out, which in turn makes the individual see double, so they learn to then turn off or ignore that eye. As time passes, vision in the unused eye is reduced.
In the past, it was thought that amblyopia was a permanent eye condition that was untreatable. This changed when it was found that if the condition was detected and treated before the ripe age of six, it can indeed be fixed. Today, a lot of optometrists refuse to believe that six is the cut off for the treatment, believing that adults can improve their sight, if not completely correct their lazy eye, through special therapies.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) has agreed that research in today’s era proves the old theory wrong. Success rates do drop as one ages, but the cut off at age six for treatment is arbitrary. Although age should not be a barrier, the longer the condition exists, the harder it is to treat.
Depending on the condition,age of patients and the optometric doctor, treatment varies. Younger children have the stronger of their two eyes patched for several hours a day. By doing so, this initiates the weaker eye to be used more while they perform exercises such as coloring, cutting things out and tracing.
Vision therapy, whether done at the doctor’s office or at home or both, will correct the underlying cause for the lazy eye. Small children will see progress in a month or two while older kids can take several months upto a year.
Adults usually go through the same treatment, but the time span is much longer. If the vision in the adult is poor, they may not wear an eye patch, or only for an hour or two at home while doing small tasks. Patients do exercises that are designed to improve focus, tracking, and spatial judgement.
After treatment, there is a 50 percent success rate for older children and adults. They see just as well or almost as well with their lazy eye compared to their normal eye. 4 out of 5 of the rest of the 50 percent show improvement at the least. Treatment results are permanent when both amblyopia and the underlying problem are corrected. When the underlying problem can not be treated, patients are encouraged to continue exercises, but less frequently. They should also visit their optometrist for regular eye health exams so that the eye does not weaken again.
The condition in which the eyes are not aligned properly and are pointing in different directions is known as strabismus. One of the two eyes may be looking straight ahead while the other is turning inward, outward, up or down. The turn of the eye can either be constant, or it may occur occasionally coming and going. The eyes may also switch or alternate between straight and being misaligned.
This condition is most common among children. In the United States alone, four percent of all children have strabismus. The condition may also evolve later in life.
The occurrence of strabismus in males and females is equal. Many people who have strabismus usually have no relatives with the problem but it still may run within families.
The cause of strabismus has still not been completely understood. Some study cases have revealed that strabismus may be a cause and effect situation dealing with the muscles of the eyes that control movement.
Superior rectus, inferior rectus, medial rectus, lateral rectus, superior oblique, and inferior oblique are the six eye muscles that control eye movements. These 6 muscles are attached to the outside of each eye. In each eye, one muscle moves the eye to left, while the other moves it to the right (inferior and superior obliques). The other four muscles (superior, inferior, medial, and lateral rectus) move the eye up or down and at an angle.
The brain is used to control the muscles. In order to focus the eyes on a single target, all of the muscles in each eye have to be balanced and work harmoniously. To get the eyes to move together, muscles in both eyes combined must be coordinated.
Both eyes aim at the same space within normal vision. The brain takes the images from both eyes and combines it into a single, 3-D image. This version of the image gives us depth perception.
When one of the eyes is out of alignment, the brain receives two different pictures. In children, the brain will adapt and ignore the image of the misaligned eye and will only see the image from the better-seeing eye. When this occurs, the child loses depth perception.
If strabismus develops in an adult, double vision usually occurs because the brains have already adapted to receive images from both eyes and cannot ignore the image that is perceived from the turned eye. Children generally do not see double.
Problems in the brain may also be the cause of some cases of strabismus. Often times, a child’s brain has problems combining the images received by the eyes. Although it is rare, a tumor may also affect how the brain processes visual information. More than often children experience strabismus resulting from problems that can be quickly treated with glasses.
If you or someone you know is suffering from crossed or crossing eyes, please see a eye care professional. If you are lucky enough to live in the DFW area drop in to Advanced Eye Clinic and let us help! If you would rather schedule an appointment click the button at the bottom of the page. We look forward to seeing you soon.