Posted on: 7 January 2021
Vision disorders in early childhood can severely affect a child's early learning as well as be a sign of a serious eye condition. One of those vision disorders is strabismus. Strabismus is a common condition that causes the eyes to be misaligned and look in different directions. If discovered early, it can usually be treated effectively. Otherwise, it can lead to more serious vision problems. That's why early vision screening is so crucial. Here's what you need to know about strabismus and the importance of pediatric eye exams.
Pediatric strabismus affects about 4% of U.S. children. Some are born with the condition, while others develop it during their early years. Strabismus is divided into four categories, based on the type of misalignment: hypertropia (upward turning of the eye), hypotropia (downward turning of the eye), esotropia (inward turning of the eye), and exotropia (outward turning of the eye). Strabismus is more common in children who suffer from disorders that affect the brain, such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, but children can also develop the condition due to uncorrected refractive errors or trauma to the head. Risk factors for developing strabismus include prematurity or low birth weight, family history, or vision problems such as pediatric cataracts, corneal scars, or other eye conditions.
Early Detection Is Crucial
When the eyes point in different directions, they send two different visual images to the brain. The brain will often ignore one of the images to avoid double vision, causing poor vision development in one eye. This can cause vision disorders such as amblyopia or lazy eye. Children suffering from amblyopia often develop learning difficulties, as well as problems socializing because of the appearance and function of their eyes.
Symptoms of strabismus typically appear when the child is 3 to 4 months old. At this age, infants should be able to focus on small objects and by 6 months, on objects near and far. It's important for parents to be aware of the importance of observing their child for focusing problems.
Screening and Treatment
A simple eye exam by an optometrist, pediatrician, or other eye care specialist can usually detect strabismus. They typically perform two types of screening: eye cover tests and corneal light reflex. With an eye cover test, the eye doctor covers one eye and observes the movement of the other eye. For a corneal reflex test, the doctor shines a small light in each eye and observes the light reflecting from the cornea.
Early treatment of strabismus is important as permanent vision impairment can occur if not treated by age 6. Treatment is geared toward improving eye alignment and getting both eyes working together correctly. Methods can include using an eye patch on the stronger eye to force the weaker eye to build up its muscles, corrective lenses, and eye exercises. In severe cases, surgical intervention can reposition the eye muscles to help the eyes function normally.
Contact a company like Northwest Ophthalmology to learn more about this disease.Share