Know anyone with crooked eyes? The medical term for crooked eyes is strabismus (pronounced struh-BIZ-muss). If the eye turns inward it’s called esotropia – outwards it’s exotropia. There are many different patterns.
Strabismus is a common condition among children, with about 4 percent of all children in the United States diagnosed with strabismus. Most adults with the condition have had it since childhood. Strabismus can also be acquired in adulthood because of medical conditions including diabetes, thyroid disease and head trauma. Strabismus can occasionally occur after cataract or retinal surgery.
A recently published study in the Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus suggests that the benefits of surgically-corrected adult strabismus include not only improved health and vision, but also improved self-image, better job performance and promotions, and more hope for the future. In the study 101 patients completed a six-question survey. They reported large differences between before-surgery and after-surgery ratings of the severity of problems associated with their strabismus.
Because adult strabismus is frequently dismissed as cosmetic, older patients rarely seek treatment. Instead, they are encouraged to “just deal with it.” Patients as old as 90 completed the study’s six survey questions and ranked on a scale of one to 10 how strabismus affected their lives before and after surgery. Categories included social interaction (maintaining eye contact, social confusion), concerns about the future (blindness, inability to work or read), and job-related concerns (not being hired, retained and/or promoted).
In all six areas, patients indicated a significant improvement after their surgery.
Surgery is not the solution for every case of strabismus. For example, crookedness due to a refractive problem responds better to prescription eyeglasses. An experienced ophthalmologist can determine the best way to manage each individual case.