Eye Turns

What is An Eye Turn?

An eye turn (also called a strabismus or squint) is a misalignment of the two eyes so that they are looking at two different locations in space. The deviating eye may turn inward (esotropia or crossed eye), outward (exotropia or wandering eye), upward (hypertropia), downward (hypotropia), or even rotational (cyclotropia). The deviation may be constant or intermittent.

What Causes An Eye Turn?

Different types of eye turns have different causes. In many cases the eye turns begins in infancy because the two eyes have unequal abilities to track objects moving in a given direction. It may also be because the brain has not learned to properly fuse each eye’s peripheral vision together. Still others have a weak eye muscle brought on by a compressed or damaged nerve induced by trauma or stroke.

Treatment for Eye Turn?

Ophthalmologists or eye surgeons will often recommend eye surgery to align the eyes by cutting the eye muscles and reattaching them in a different location. This will cosmetically make the eyes look straight for the time being but doesn’t necessarily provide depth perception to the patient. This is because the brain has not learned to process visual information correctly from both eyes simultaneously.

What About Patching?

In many cases an eye doctor will recommend a regimen of patching over the dominant eye to force the deviating eye to work. The problem once again with this approach is that patching is a ONE EYE activity and not a two eye activity. There is nothing about patching which ensures that the patient will learn how to use the two eyes together simultaneously. In order for someone with an eye turn to have a functional cure, we must address the following:

1. Is the eye deviation the same angle in all directions?
2. Is the brain suppressing input from one eye to avoid noticing double vision?
3. If so, how hard is it to overcome the suppression?
4. Will glasses help to straighten out the eyes?

Unless your eye doctor is looking at all of these factors, he/she cannot promise a functional cure with the typical patching regimen that is usually recommended. Doing surgery will make the eyes appear straight but the patient still hasn’t learned to process binocular input and develop normal depth perception. Without depth perception, there’s no reason for the brain to keep the eyes aligned and this is why doctors perform multiple surgeries on the same patient. Patients often get a temporary cosmetic improvement but no improvement in function.

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