Adult Strabismus

Adult strabismus (crossed eyes) is when the eyes are not lined up correctly and point in different directions. For example, one eye may look straight ahead while the other eye turns in, out, up, or down. The misalignment can shift from one eye to the other. Strabismus affects vision since both eyes must aim at the same spot together to see correctly.

What Causes Adult Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)?

To line up and focus both eyes on a single target, all muscles in both eyes must be balanced and working together. The brain controls these muscles. People who have strabismus usually have a problem that can affect eye muscles. Some of those problems may include:

  • Health problems such as diabetes, thyroid disease (Graves’ disease), Myasthenia gravis, brain tumors, or a stroke
  • Accidents or head injury
  • Damage to eye muscles during eye surgery

Most adults with strabismus have had it since they were children. But sometimes, it starts later in life.

What Are the Symptoms of Adult Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)?

The most obvious symptom has eyes that appear out of alignment. However, adults with strabismus also may notice these other symptoms:

  • Weakness in or around the eye or feeling like something is pulling around your eyes.
  • Vision changes include double vision (seeing two of one image), blurry vision, trouble reading, or a loss of depth perception.
  • Constantly tilting or turning your head to see an image clearly.

Strabismus symptoms can be constant, or they can come and go.
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Adult Strabismus (Crossed Eyes) Surgery

This is the most common treatment for strabismus. Surgery can improve eye alignment and help restore good vision. Typically, strabismus occurs when the muscles around the eyes are either too stiff or too weak. An ophthalmologist can loosen, tighten, or move specific eye muscles, so the eyes line up properly to work together. More than one surgery may be needed to treat strabismus.

Surgery is usually done as outpatient surgery in a hospital or surgery center, using either general or local anesthesia. An ophthalmologist makes a small cut in the tissue covering the eye to reach the eye muscles. The muscles are then repositioned to help the eyes point in the same direction. This may need to be done in one or both eyes. After strabismus surgery, you can return to your daily routine within a few days.

The success rate of this surgery may exceed 90%, as it restores the parallelism of the eyes, eliminates the annoying double vision, and solves an aesthetic problem with considerable psychological consequences.

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