What is strabismus?
Strabismus is an eyesight problem that consists of the loss of parallelism between the two eyes insofar as they are not properly aligned and each one points in a different direction. Despite being a pathology that is often associated to childhood, it is also present and can be treated in adults.
What causes it?
Adult strabismus can arise as a result of childhood strabismus or be secondary to different diseases and processes. Depending on its many different causes, there are four main groups of strabismus, each one of which must be treated specifically:
- Paralytic: The muscles responsible of moving and focusing the eye are much weaker, generally due to ischemias, tumours or neurological pathologies.
- Restrictive: this is due to a mechanical problem arising from prior eye surgeries and orbital fractures or trauma, as well as secondary to thyroid diseases or high myopia.
- Essential: this often comes from childhood, although it might be just the opposite and be a result of ageing due to laxity of the tissues involved in eye movements.
- Sensorial: associated to bad eyesight, as it arises when one of the two eyes cannot see or has very limited vision.
How is it diagnosed?
To assess the degree of ocular deviation and the type of strabismus in order to ascertain subsequent treatment, a complete ophthalmological examination is performed that may sometimes require specific tests to assess the disease.
Furthermore, the presence of other eye diseases or refractive disorders associated to strabismus is ruled out during the visit.
In cases where strabismus appears in adulthood, the patient often experiences intermittent or constant double vision (diplopia), which may become extremely incapacitating when performing everyday activities.
Furthermore, childhood strabismus does not cause diplopia, although patients suffering from it often experience:
- Visual fatigue
- Problems relating with other people or of self-esteem
It is important to consider the psychosocial implications of ocular deviation, the correction of which not only treats a functional problem but also offers aesthetical benefits.