What are crossed eyes?
Crossed eyes is also called strabismus, a condition in which your eyes don’t
line up. If you have this condition, your eyes look in different directions.
And each eye will focus on a different object.
The condition is more common in children, but
it can also occur later in life. In older children and adults, crossed eyes can be caused by a variety of underlying
medical conditions, like cerebral palsy or stroke.
Crossed eyes can usually be corrected with corrective lenses, surgery, or a
combination of both.
Symptoms of crossed eyes
If you have crossed
eyes, your eyes might point inward or outward or focus in
different directions. You might also have:
- impaired vision
- double vision
- decreased depth perception
- eye strain or headache
Your symptoms may be constant or appear only when you’re tired or
not feeling well.
What causes crossed eyes?
Crossed eyes occur either due to nerve damage
or when the muscles around your eyes don’t work together because some are weaker
than others. When your brain receives a different visual message from each eye,
it ignores the signals coming from your weaker eye. If your condition isn’t
corrected, you may lose vision in your weaker eye.
Crossed eyes are common in children. Often the underlying cause is
unknown. Infantile esotropia is a type
of crossed eyes that appears in babies during their first year of life. It runs
in families and usually requires surgery to correct. Acquired esotropia occurs in children between the
ages of 2 and 5. Eyeglasses can usually correct it.
Crossed eyes can also occur later in life.
It’s usually caused by physical disorders, like eye injuries, cerebral palsy,
or stroke. You may also develop crossed eyes if you have a lazy eye or are farsighted.
How is crossed eyes diagnosed?
To prevent vision loss, early diagnosis and
treatment for crossed eyes is important. If you develop symptoms of crossed
eyes, make an appointment with an eye doctor. They will perform a series of
tests to check the health of your eyes that may include:
- corneal light reflex test to check for
- visual acuity test to determine how well
you can read from a distance
- cover/uncover test to measure your eye
movement and deviation
- retina exam to examine the backs of your
If you have other physical symptoms along
with crossed eyes, your doctor may examine your brain and nervous system for
other conditions. For example, they may conduct tests to check for cerebral
palsy or Guillain-Barré syndrome.
It’s common for newborn babies to have
crossed eyes. If your baby has crossed eyes that persist beyond 3 months of
age, make an appointment with their doctor. Young children should undergo an
eye exam before age 3.
Who is at risk of crossed eyes?
You’re more likely to develop crossed eyes if
- have family members who have crossed
- have a brain disorder or brain tumor
- have suffered a stroke or brain injury
- have a lazy eye, are farsighted, or have
- have a damaged retina
- are diabetic
are crossed eyes treated?
Your recommended treatment plan for crossed
eyes will depend on the severity and underlying cause of your condition. If your
crossed eyes have resulted from a lazy eye, your doctor may have you wear a
patch over your stronger eye to force the muscles of your weaker eye to work
harder. They might also prescribe eye drops to blur the vision in your stronger
eye. They can also use Botox injections to weaken the muscles of your stronger
Other potential treatments include:
- eye exercises
- corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or
- surgery on certain eye muscles,
particularly if corrective lenses haven’t corrected the condition
If your crossed eyes are caused by an
underlying medical condition, such as a brain tumor or stroke, your doctor may
prescribe medication, surgery, or other treatments.
What is the long-term outlook for crossed eyes?
Often crossed eyes can be corrected with corrective
lenses, eye patches, in rare cases surgery, or by other modalities. It’s
important to seek treatment right away to lower your risk of vision loss. After
you’ve received treatment, watch your eyes for changes. In some cases, the
condition may come back.
If your crossed eyes are caused by an
underlying medical condition, early diagnosis and treatment may help improve
your chances of recovery. Ask your doctor for more information about your
specific condition and treatment options.