An eye that turns in or out (Strabismus), is a condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time, and usually occurs in those with poor eye muscle control, or those who are very farsighted (hyperopia). Individuals suffering from strabismus may have an eye that turns in, out, up, or down.


Normally, both eyes will work together so that they point at the same place and are able to properly focus on an object. When problems develop with eye muscle control, an eye may turn in, out, up, or down. This may occur all the time, or it could only appear when the individual is ill, tired, or has engaged in close work for a prolonged period. An eyeturn may occur in only one eye, or can alternate between both eyes.


In order to prevent seeing double for good depth perception and the development of poor vision, proper eye alignment is a necessity. In the short term, this misalignment could cause double vision and confusion. However, over time, as the brain learns to ignore the image from the turned eye, this could lead to permanently reduced vision in one eye. This condition is called “lazy eye” or amblyopia.


Strabismus is most commonly caused by problems with the eye muscles, the nerves that transmit information to the muscles, or the control center in the brain that directs eye movements. In some cases, it can also develop due to other general health conditions or eye injuries. Risk factors for strabismus include:


  • Family History: People with parents or siblings who have strabismus are more likely to develop it
  • Refractive Error: People who have a significant amount of uncorrected farsightedness (hyperopia) may develop strabismus due to the additional eye focusing necessary to keep objects clear
  • Medical Conditions: Those with conditions such as Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy, or who have recently suffered a stroke or head injury, are at higher risk for developing strabismus


Strabismus is most common in infants and young children, and often develops by the age of 3. In some cases, older children and adults can also develop the condition. A child with strabismus will not outgrow the condition, and it will continue to worsen without treatment. Treatment could include the prescription of eyeglasses or contact lenses, prism lenses, vision therapy, or eye muscle surgery. If your child is experiencing an eye that turns in or out, they should be examined by an eye doctor in order to prescribe the proper course of treatment.


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