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Vision Therapy for Strabismus (Eye Turn)

Strabismus, also known as “eye turn”, “crossed eye”, “wandering eye” or “squint” is the inability of both eyes to point in the same direction at the same time. One of the eyes appears to be pointing inwards (esotropia), outwards (exotropia), upwards (hypertropia) or downwards (hypotropia). Strabismus can be present constantly or only occur occasionally after certain tasks such as reading for a prolonged period of time or if the person is generally tired. In some cases, the same eye is always turned and in other cases the eye turn alternates between the two eyes. In most cases, strabismus does not resolve on its own and requires treatment to prevent any visual consequences.

Treatment for strabismus is crucial because this condition not only has vision consequences but can also create psychological and social consequences for the person. Since strabismus is an eye turn, it changes a person’s appearance. Children with strabismus may be teased or taunted for looking different. Adults with strabismus are often self-conscious of their eye turn during conversations with others. Research has shown that teens and adults with strabismus suffer from higher levels of anxiety and depression and also have difficulties with self-image and interpersonal relationships.

Strabismus affects up to

0 %
of the population

A person with strabismus may show the following signs and symptoms

Eyes pointing in different directions
Poor balance
Poor coordination
Double vision
Nausea and dizziness (vertigo)
Confusion between lefts and rights, b’s and d’s, p’s and q’s
Poor reading and comprehension
Poor depth perception
Poor depth perception
Clumsiness or bumping into things
Difficulty with 3D movies
Closing one eye to see
Head turn or head tilt

Frequently Asked Questions

Strabismus is most common in infants and young children but can still occur in adults. It can be caused by the following:

  • Large farsightedness prescription (hyperopia)
  • Significant difference of prescription between the two eyes such that the eye with the higher prescription starts to wander
  • Poor eye coordination development during childhood
  • Poor eye muscle development during childhood
  • Traumatic brain injury, stroke or other general neurological or health problems

For a non-strabismic person, both eyes point in the same direction when looking at an object, the visual information from the two eyes goes to the brain and the brain puts the information together for interpretation. For a strabismic person, the two eyes point in two different directions, which results in different visual information being sent to the brain from each eye. This causes confusion in the brain and can lead to blurry vision, double vision, amblyopia (lazy eye) or suppression of the wandering eye. It can also cause problems with depth perception, balance and coordination.

Depending on the cause of strabismus, treatment may include the following:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Vision Therapy
  • Muscle surgery

Strabismus surgery cosmetically straightens the eyes to point them in the same direction. Vision Therapy teaches the brain how to use the two eyes together as a team. Since the brain of strabismic patients is accustomed to receiving different information from the two eyes and suppressing the wandering eye, it does not know how to use the two eyes together and needs to be trained to do so. In some cases, strabismus does not require surgery and can be treated with vision therapy alone and in other cases, it requires a combination treatment of surgery and vision therapy.

Vision Therapy provides a non-surgical approach to strabismus treatment. An individualized vision therapy program for strabismus will include customized vision activities to improve binocular function, which is the brain’s ability to use the two eyes together and equally as an effective team. The program will strengthen eye to brain connections from both eyes, which in turn would improve reading abilities, balance and coordination and depth perception. The goal of the vision therapy program for strabismus is to restore complete visual function. In instances where strabismus surgery has been previously performed, regardless of whether or not the eyes are straight, vision therapy may still be required post-surgery to treat any problems with reading and writing abilities, depth perception, nausea, double vision and athletic performance.

Absolutely. Adults are a large portion of the patient base for vision therapy. This is because our brain is plastic (i.e. trainable) at any age and not only during childhood. An individualized adult vision therapy program for strabismus may require a longer time period for treatment but can be equally effective since adults are well aware of their symptoms and visual problems, which increases their motivation and understanding towards their vision activities and exercises.

Book an Appointment

Schedule a Vision Therapy Assessment with our board-certified developmental optometrist, Dr. Arora, for a thorough assessment of your visual skills and visual processing speed.