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How can I tell if my child has strabismus?

Ask your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to examine the child if you have any concerns as to whether his or her eyes are straight. Strabismus should not be ignored. A prompt examination may help avoid vision loss. Occasionally, strabismus can be caused by a:
  • Cataract;
  • Tumor in the eye;
  • Neurological problem.
These conditions may require urgent medical attention. The vast majority of children with strabismus, however, have none of these problems.
When a child’s eyes are actually crossed, he or she will use only one eye at a time to avoid seeing double. The unused or crossed eye may not develop good vision and may become amblyopic (“lazy”). To prevent this condition, the child must be made to use the misaligned eye by patching or covering the good eye. If amblyopia is not treated early in childhood, poor vision persists throughout life.
In some cases, true strabismus may be difficult to detect. The eye may deviate intermittently, or only slightly, and more than one examination may be needed to detect the problem. Over time, pseudostrabismus gets better, whereas true strabismus may get worse.
Older children can be tested for poor vision and amblyopia by using eye charts.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.