Understanding the Condition of Strabismus
We sometimes get asked whether LASIK surgery can fix or treat a patient with crossed eyes, a condition known as strabismus. The answer is a bit complex, so let’s start by understanding what the condition is, its causes, and its recommended treatments.
The American Optometric Association defines strabismus as “a condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time.” There are several causes for this condition, which usually occurs first in babies and young children but can sometimes develop in adults:
- Family history of the condition
- Nerve damage
- Weak eye muscles
- Significant uncorrected farsightedness
According to Neuroscience, there are six muscles that control our vertical and horizontal eye movements. The muscles receive signals from our brain to control these movements. In a person without strabismus, the eyes will work together so that they direct your vision to the same place. However, a person with weakened eye muscles or severe farsightedness may experience their eyes turning in, out, up, or down. This might occur all of the time, when they are tired, or after long periods of eye strain.
A person with crossed eyes can also have a lazy eye, or amblyopia, which is an eye that has reduced vision. Both conditions typically develop early, and it is important for a young child with symptoms of strabismus or amblyopia to see their eye care professional as soon as possible for intervention.
Treatment for Crossed Eyes
There are several options to correct crossed eyes. For some individuals, wearing special eyeglasses or contacts will be enough to provide the correction. Others will need ongoing vision therapy to exercise and strengthen their eye muscles. In rarer cases, an eye muscle surgery will be performed in addition to vision therapy.
Can LASIK correct crossed eyes?
Laser eye surgery is designed to correct refractive errors, which occur when the shape of your eye keeps light from properly hitting your retina. LASIK will not correct or impact an individual’s eye muscle length and strength, but it can help with eye conditions that are caused by severe refractive errors. For example, if a person is experiencing strabismus due to years of uncorrected farsightedness, LASIK could potentially be used to treat the refractive error. In these situations, the individual would need to be determined as a good candidate for LASIK and, if so, would likely need to continue other forms of treatment such as vision therapy exercises.
A word of caution:
Every case of crossed eyes is different. Each individual will need to follow a unique treatment plan tailored to their precise vision correction needs and guided by informed medical professionals. The first step to determine if LASIK is an option for you is to speak to your family physician or eye care provider.
If we can provide more information or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. We are happy to serve as a resource.