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What is Cross Eye or Strabismus?

 “Cross eyes” or “Strabismus” is a condition in which an individual is unable to align his eyes in a straight direction, to focus on a particular point. 

The eyes appear to be disarrayed. The most probable cause which results in the occurrence of this medical condition is the weakening of the eye’s muscles.

A weak eye will not be able to focus on a specific object and will turn it’s gaze elsewhere. The phenomenon of “Cross eyes” is mostly found in babies.

Cross Eyes in Children

If this medical condition is diagnosed in its initial stages, then the treatment becomes much more effective. The occurrence of “Cross eyes” can either be temporary or a lasting phenomenon.

Temporary strabismus can result in the worsening of the conditions of eye muscles, as the eyes become tired by constantly focusing on a particular object. In most cases, several parents have found their children to be roaming from one place to another, in the initial months after their birth. An infant keeps wandering because he is still learning to focus his eyes on a particular object. 

cross eye

Categories of Cross Eyes

The medical condition known as “Cross eyes” or “Strabismus”, has been bifurcated into several categories, based on the direction of misalignment. The categories have been mentioned below:

Esotropia or Convergence:

This type of Strabismus occurs in an individual’s eye when one of his eyes can look in a straight alignment but the other starts to turn inwards.

Exotropia or Divergence:

This type of Strabismus occurs in an individual’s eye when one of his eyes is able to look in a straight alignment but the other starts to turn outwards.


This type of Strabismus occurs in an individual’s eye when one of his eyes is able to look in a straight alignment but the other starts to turn downwards.


This type of Strabismus occurs in an individual’s eye when one of his eyes is able to look in a straight alignment but the other starts to turn upwards.

Symptoms Of Strabismus/Cross Eyes

  • Misalignment of eyes.
  • Eyes move in a dysfunctional manner.
  • Constantly blinking due to extreme sensitivity to light.
  • “The eyes of an individual will not be able to perceive the depth of an object.
  • A person can also experience double vision, in which eyes will see two sets of images of a single object.
  • An individual can also start to experience pain in the eyes.
  • Duane’s Syndrome:- It is a disorder of the movement of the eyes, which is present at birth and is characterized by limitation of horizontal movement of eyes.

Causes of Strabismus Or Cross Eyes

In a large number of cases, the brain of an individual starts to acquire different visual messages from each eye and the signals which come from the weaker eye are ignored by the brain. If the phenomenon of ‘Cross eyes’  is not treated in a specific time period, then an individual can lose his vision completely with the progression of time.

If someone in the individual’s family has already been diagnosed with “Strabismus”, then the concerned individual has a high probability of getting diagnosed with the same condition.

Various kinds of “cerebral injuries” have also been associated with the phenomenon of “Cross eyes”.

Strabismus can be caused due to a problem with the nerves which control the muscles of the eye.

The occurrence of Cross eyes has been mostly found in infants and small children but the fundamental cause behind the phenomenon is still unknown. Strabismus is followed by several kinds of physical ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, or thyroid disorders.

Prevention of Cross Eyes

There is no known method to prevent “Strabismus”, but the various treatment methods become significantly effective when this medical condition is detected in its early stages.
The most effective results have been found in children, who are less than 6 years old. The eye health of infants should be observed closely by the parents during their initial years and preschool years, to detect the early onset of “Cross eyes”. Parents are advised to take their children to routine eye check ups to avoid the onset of various kinds of eye ailments.

Treatment Of Cross Eyes Or Strabismus

The fundamental goal of treatment is to ensure that the vision gets fully restored. Different kinds of treatments are used to cure the condition of “Cross eyes”. The various kinds of treatments have been mentioned below:-

Contact Lenses:

An eye specialist after performing a thorough exam of the eye can prescribe contact lenses of a specific kind to the concerned individual.

Prism Lenses:

These are special kinds of lenses in which one side of the lens is thicker than the other. The function of the prism is to alter the light which enters the eye, due to which the eyes won’t need to turn constantly to properly view an object. These kinds of lenses correct the misalignment which leads to two sets of images being seen by an individual. An individual may need to undergo several kinds of eye tests to figure out the correct prism for his glasses. The different kinds of tests are the “Hirschberg test, Krimsky test, Cover tests, Maddox test”. Prism lenses have not been found to be a much effective mode of treatment for “Cross Eyes”.

Vision Therapy:

An eye specialist may suggest various kinds of eye therapies to an individual for enhancement of eye coordination and the ability of eyes to focus on a particular object.  The central purpose of “vision therapy”, is to ameliorate the functional relationship between the “eyes” and the “brain”. Various kinds of vision therapies have been found to be extremely useful in improving the cognitive and athletic abilities of a person. There are two main categories of vision therapies, which are known as:

  • “Behavioral/perceptual vision therapy” and 
  • “Orthoptic vision therapy”. 

The former has been found to be largely effective in the improvement of visual processing by the eyes, with the latter being effective in the improvement of “binocular function”.

Strabismus Surgery:

When all the other methods of treatment for “Cross eyes” do not work, then an individual is only left with the option of undergoing a surgical procedure for the enhancement of his vision.
The purpose of the surgery is to set both of the eyes in a straight alignment by altering the length or position of the eye’s muscles. Individuals who undergo eye surgery may also require” vision therapy” for enhancement of vision.


Cross eye conditions usually get better with time. You can do eye exercises to help your eyes focus. These can also be treated with proper treatment. Your doctor will prescribe you corrective lenses first to improve your vision. If it does not work you may go for the surgery. 

There is no such evidence that watching TV can worsen the situation of strabismus. Though spending too much time on screen is not healthy for your eyes. So keep the limit in mind. 

Cross eye or strabismus is more likely to develop in the children upto age 3. However it usually disappears after the face of the child grows. The non- coordination  between eyes and brain is developed as the child grows. This can also happen in adults too. 

Most young children give the impression that they have cross eyes, because their face is not grown fully. This is also called pseudostrabismus. The child will overcome this as he/she grows. However strabismus will need treatment and won’t go away on its own. 

Cross eyes need to be treated on time, otherwise they can cause complications and affect your vision. You may need surgery eventually. In cross eyes, our eye muscles and nerves get tired of holding the eye at one place, so it may cause vision loss to some extent. It is recommended to get the condition diagnosed as soon as possible.

Young children often get cross eyes and it ceases to exist with time. The symptoms could be-

  • Headache
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye pain

Yes. You can do eye exercises to improve the situation. For example you can hold your thumb at the centre of both eyes,away from the nose. Then slowly bring it towards the nose making both the eyes focus on the thumb at the same time, afterwards move the thumb away from your nose without looking away. Doing this exercise several times a day can help in treating the cross eye if it’s at the initial stage.  

You should get your child’s eye examined when the child turns two and before he starts school to keep the complications at bay. It is advised to get the eye examination done every three years even with healthy eyes. And if your child seems uneasy with his eyes you should get a checkup done immediately. 

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