Strabismus occurs when the eyes are not pointing in the same direction due to poor eye teaming skills. Any of these alignment problems will cause a deficit in depth perception. Oftentimes, strabismus is interpreted as an eye muscle problem. However, it really is an eye-brain problem which affects the eye muscles where there is confusion in the signals traveling between the eyes and the brain. The “eye-brain” connection does not work properly.
Signs of strabismus:
- Exotropia – an eye points outward away from the nose
- Esotropia – an eye points inward towards the nose
- Hypertropia – an eye points up more than the other eye
- Hypotropia – an eye points downward more than the other
- Amblyopia, often called “lazy eye”, is poorer visual acuity in one eye compared to the other. Amblyopia may be present with strabismus. If an eye turn is present, the turned eye often has poorer vision.
There are many potential symptoms, depending on the type and frequency of strabismus or intensity of the suppression or decreased visual acuity of the amblyopia.
Symptoms of strabismus and amblyopia include:
- Covering or closing an eye
- Rubbing of the eyes
- Eyes feeling tired
- Avoidance of near work
- Poor depth perception
- Fear of heights
- Clumsy/poor motor control
- Balance issues
Strabismus therapy can be effective for patients of any age since there is no age limit.
Treatment for strabismus:
- Glasses may be prescribed to help the brain use both eyes together.
- Vision therapy involves neuro-feedback, giving the brain the opportunity to learn to see with both eyes.
- Syntonics or light therapy used in conjunction with a vision therapy program helps to balance the autonomic nervous system; the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Syntonics is a specific optometric prescription of color exposures over a defined period of time to restore, compensate or enhance physiological visual imbalance.
Treatment for amblyopia
Amblyopia does not mean someone has one “good” eye and one “bad” eye. Rather, both eyes do not work together as a team. Depth perception, focusing and eye movements are typically lacking in both eyes, not just the amblyopic eye. Amblyopia therapy aims at improving the visual skills in both eyes so they work well as a team.
- Glasses may be prescribed to improve the patient’s ability to use both eyes together. These may be a bifocal.
- Vision therapy gives the patient neuro-feedback, which helps their ability to use both eyes together. We utilize interactive games and activities to improve the patient’s vision and eye-teaming.
Prevention of amblyopia: Amblyopia is often not diagnosed until a child is in elementary school. We strongly suggest that children have an eye exam at the following intervals:
- 6 to 12 months old for their first exam
- 2 to 3 years old at their next exam
- Pre-school exam at 5 years old
- Every year thereafter while in school