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Crossed eyes, or strabismus, as it is medically termed, is a
condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place
at the same time. It occurs when an eye turns in, out, up or
down and is usually caused by poor eye muscle control or a
high degree of farsightedness.
When the eyes are misaligned or "crossed", the brain
receives two significantly different pictures. At first, this
may cause a child to see double. Eventually, the brain
learns to ignore the image from the turned eye. This can
lead to a permanent reduction of vision in that eye, a
condition known as lazy eye or amblyopia.
Eye turning may be constant or appear only at certain
times, such as when a child is tired, ill, or has done a lot of
reading or close work. In some cases, the same eye may
turn each time, while other times the turning may
alternate between eyes.
Strabismus usually develops in infants and young children,
most often by age 3. There is a common misconception
that a child with strabismus will outgrow the condition. But
that's not true.
In babies, it is possible to have a pseudostrabismus or
"false strabismus" where the infant's eyes appear to be
misaligned, but aren't. The appearance of crossed eyes
may be due to extra skin covering the inner corner of the
eyes, or a wide bridge of the baby's nose. Usually, this
appearance of crossed eyes will disappear as the baby
grows. However, any child older than four months whose
eyes do not appear to be straight all the time should be
examined by an eye doctor.
Depending on the type and severity, crossed eyes can be
treated in a variety of ways including:
Eyeglasses or contact lenses
Eye muscle surgery
If detected and treated early, crossed eyes can often be
corrected with excellent results.
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