Strabismus, commonly referred to as an "eye turn," occurs when one or both eyes turn in a different direction than intended. The issue arises from a disruption in the binocular system, making it difficult for both eyes to work in harmony. An eye could turn in various directions—outwards, inwards, upwards, or downwards—and can be categorized as lateral or vertical based on the direction of the turn.

What Causes Strabismus?

The reasons behind strabismus can vary from person to person. Some individuals develop strabismus due to nerve injuries affecting the third, fourth, or sixth cranial nerves. Identifying the root cause—whether it's a nerve palsy, congenital issue, or injury—is crucial for effective treatment.

Symptoms: Double Vision, Suppression, and Eye Strain


Acquired Strabismus: The Challenge of Double Vision

Patients with acquired strabismus—a condition developed later in life—often find themselves struggling with double vision. This can make daily activities like reading, driving, and even walking quite challenging. Double vision can be disorienting and may lead to headaches or even nausea in extreme cases.

Congenital Strabismus: Brain Suppression

In cases of congenital strabismus, where the individual is born with the condition, the brain often learns to suppress the image from the misaligned eye to avoid double vision. While this may seem like a "solution," it actually leads to the individual relying solely on one eye for all visual tasks. This can have long-term repercussions, including reduced depth perception and limitations in field of view.

Other Symptoms to Watch For

Beyond double vision and suppression, strabismus can also result in other symptoms, such as:

  • Eye Strain: Because one eye has to work harder to compensate for the misalignment, it can often lead to eye strain and discomfort.
  • Difficulty in Depth Perception: Tasks that require accurate depth perception, like catching a ball or parking a car, can become challenging.
  • Social Impact: Particularly in children, strabismus can lead to self-esteem issues due to the noticeable eye misalignment.

Traditional Strabismus Treatment: Is Patching Effective?

Patching is a conventional treatment method where one eye is covered to encourage the other eye to work harder. While traditional approaches often involve "passive patching," where the patch is simply worn, this isn't the most effective solution according to some experts.

Active Treatment Over Passive Patching

The idea of "active treatment" is to engage the patient in activities while wearing the patch, instead of simply covering one eye. The aim is to improve control, fixation stability, and increase the ocular range of movement through active engagement.

When Surgery is Required

For cases where the angle of the eye turn is severe and cannot be managed with non-surgical treatments alone, surgical intervention may be necessary. However, surgery is often used as a last resort and in conjunction with other treatments like active patching and vision therapy. In cases that do require surgical intervention, a multi-disciplinary approach is recommended. Post-surgery, patients generally undergo vision therapy to refine their eye alignment and restore binocular vision.

The Role of Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is a crucial part of the treatment journey for strabismus patients. It helps fill the gaps that surgery or patching alone can't address, ensuring the patient gains and maintains binocular vision.


Strabismus is a complex condition with various underlying causes and symptoms. A one-size-fits-all approach is rarely effective, and a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan is often the best route. Whether it's active patching, surgery, or vision therapy, the key is to tailor the treatment to the individual's specific needs to ensure the best possible outcome.

Remember, if you're experiencing symptoms like double vision or notice an eye turn, it's crucial to consult an eye care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Access top-quality eye care for an eye exam for strabismus and amblyopia at our renowned optometry clinic in Bellflower, conveniently serving patients from Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles. Call (562) 925-6591 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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