Childhood strabismus affects approximately 3% of children and is not a real disease but a visual defect determined by the malfunction of the extrinsic muscles of the eye.
This muscle deficiency causes a deviation of the visual axes, missing synchronism between the two eyes and impaired binocular vision.
It is important to note that strabismus is very common and is absolutely natural in infants. It is defined in this case as “infantile esotropia”, characterized by diversion into the interior of one or both eyes. Children under six months of age have yet to develop the ability to orient the visual axes accordingly.
Generally, after six months of age, it disappears naturally. Otherwise, you need to consult an eye doctor. It is recommended that one does a visit between 6 and 9 months of age to assess the presence of binocular vision and ensure the absence of congenital malformations such as cataracts and glaucoma.
Types And Causes Of Strabismus
The wrong convergence of the visual axes can rise to different types of strabismus:
- esotropia or convergent strabismus, when one eye is able to look straight ahead while the other deflects inwards,
- exotropia or divergent strabismus, when the squinting eye deviates outwards,
- vertical strabismus, when the eye deviates upwards or downwards.
In the first case, the phenomenon is, as mentioned, caused by the fact that one or both eyes are not well aligned because of a muscle deficit. In the second case, the strabismus is instead determined by an excessive development at the fold of the skin that partially covers the sclera (the white part of the eye) and gives the impression of a presence of a squint and that the ocular axes have deviated.
Treating Childhood Squint
Depending on the severity of the phenomenon and the type of strabismus described above, the ophthalmologist may indicate the best cure.
To date, several therapeutic avenues are available:
- use of eyeglasses can correct visual problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism that can contribute to the development of strabismus,
- injections of botulinum toxin into one of the muscles responsible for the abnormal eye movement allowing the eyes to realign (temporary solution),
- learning special eye exercises to improve the movement of the eye muscles, stimulate the brain and eyes to work in a coordinated manner,
- minimally invasive surgery to strengthen, weaken or move muscles of the eye to realign visual axis.