Strabismus in children

Normally, human eyes move consistently and synchronously, with a common focus point on the object and a clear image formed. This ability is called binocular vision. Strabismus is a disorder in which the eyes deviate to one side or the other, due to which the visual axes do not converge on the object. In medicine, there is another name for this pathology – strabismus.

Normally, human eyes move consistently and synchronously, with a common focus point on the object and a clear image formed. This ability is called binocular vision. Strabismus is a disorder in which the eyes deviate to one side or the other, due to which the visual axes do not converge on the object. In medicine, there is another name for this pathology – strabismus.

Strabismus can successfully be treated. The main thing is to identify the problem as early as possible. Don’t expect it to secede with time. Strabismus is not just a visual defect, but a complex disease, with important visual functions impaired. Ignoring this pathology leads to a decreased visual acuity and other ophthalmological problems. For example, amblyopia develops – reduction in vision of the squinting eye due to functional disorders.

Types of strabismus in children

Experts distinguish between several types of this disorder.

  • Depending on the reason for its occurrence, strabismus can be concomitant or paralytic. A diagnosis of concomitant strabismus means that the defect is due to a refractive error, such as hyperopia or astigmatism. Concomitant strabismus may depend on accommodation – an ability of the eye to bring an image into focus at different distances. One can distinguish between partially accommodative and non-accommodative concomitant strabismus.     
  • The paralytic form is diagnosed if the reason for strabismus is paralysis of the muscles or nerves of the visual organ. With paralytic strabismus, one eye squints. The characteristic symptoms of this pathology, in addition to visual disorders, are headache and ambiopia.
  • Depending on the trajectory of displacement of the axis of the fixation point, we can distinguish strabismus with horizontal and vertical deviation. With horizontal strabismus, the eyes point in two different directions or converge to the bridge of the nose. Vertical strabismus is characterized by upward or downward displacement.
  • If one eye squints, one can speak of unilateral strabismus, with paired disorder of the organs of vision, doctors diagnose intermittent (alternating) strabismus».

Strabismus can be mixed, with the symptoms of several types of strabismus appearing.

Symptoms of strabismus in children

Until about six months of age, it is almost impossible for a non-expert to identify the disorder, since the baby’s eye muscles are poorly developed, if at all, and apparent pathology can be the norm. It is worth consulting a doctor if the eyes of the baby, looking at objects, do not move synchronously. If the baby, observing the toys, turns his head every time, instead of following them with his eyes, it is also worthwhile to be wary. Children with strabismus do not normally see objects located from the side of the squinting eye, therefore, they constantly bump into them when crawling or walking. You should pay attention to this.

Take a closer look at your children: if they are trying to focus on an object, and at the same time the pupils are in different positions and/or move asynchronously, you should take your child to the optometrist.

Note! Strabismus worsens and becomes more noticeable in bright light.

Causes of strabismus in children

Pathology can be congenital or acquired. In the first case, the symptoms of the disorder appear in early childhood, not later than three years of age. Acquired strabismus can occur at any age.

Among the causes of the congenital development of strabismus are the mother’s illness during pregnancy, foetal developmental disorders, and difficult delivery. This visual defect can also be a consequence of a genetic predisposition, the result of an anatomical abnormality of the visual organ or a concomitant disease in children with hydrocephalus, Down’s disease, cerebral palsy, and brain tumours. 

Acquired strabismus can develop:

  • against the backdrop of common ophthalmic disorders – myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism;
  • as a consequence of infectious diseases;
  • after traumatic brain injury; 
  • due to pathologies of the brain;
  • due to stressful situations.

It is not always possible to establish the exact cause of strabismus in children.

How is strabismus diagnosed in children?

An appointment with an ophthalmologist begins with taking an anamnesis. The doctor specifies when the violation was first detected, how often and strongly it occurs, what concomitant diseases the baby and the parents have. The examination itself includes a personal examination and instrumental procedures, among which are visual acuity testing, refraction research, eyeball examination, computer perimetry, strabismus angle measurement, etc.  

Methods for treating strabismus in children

Ocular Institute of Ophthalmology finds an effective treatment regimen for each child individually, taking into account the cause and type of disorder, as well as the age of a little patient. An experienced doctor will prescribe conservative, instrumental or operative (surgical) treatment.

  • Conservative therapy involves optical correction using glasses or soft contact lenses. Occlusion therapy has proven itself well, with the healthy eye closed in order to stimulate and train the squinting (lazy) eye.
  • In addition to optical correction, the doctor may recommend instrumental treatment using such devices as synoptophore and binarimeter, which contribute to binocular eyesight recovery.
  • Surgical treatment is aimed at correcting work of the oculomotor muscles. State-of-the-art-equipment and techniques enable to successfully perform minimally invasive surgeries.

Complex therapy includes optical and instrumental methods, which are sufficient to eliminate most cases of strabismus. Sometimes, in the treatment of strabismus, drugs are additionally prescribed, with the effect aimed at relaxing the muscles of the eyes, relieving spasms, and improving tissue trophism.

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