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Strabismus is an abnormality in the parallelism of the child's two eyes. It occurs when there is a deviation in the focus of the gaze, in such a way that the eyes seem to each go their own way or converge towards the center.
This defect in the parallelism of the eyes causes in the child, in some cases, binocular vision or double vision, or a blurred vision. Treatment with a normal eye patch to force the affected eye to work harder or surgery can improve this vision problem, which is not just a cosmetic problem.
Some newborn babies move each eye independently for the first few weeks of life. It is what is known as functional strabismus and it corrects itself after the first 4-6 months of life. It is necessary to take the child to the ophthalmologist if the strabismus does not disappear after six months or appears after 4 months of life.
At functional strabismus of the newborn is transient and it is due to an immaturity of the optic nerve. When strabismus is temporary, the eyes converge inward or turn outward, but never go up and down or vice versa. In any case, always consult with the specialist, if the child rolls his eyes.
Strabismus is a common eye ailment in childhood. The child presents strabismus when there is no parallelism between the anterior and posterior axes of his gaze, and a manifest deviation is clearly noted in his eyes, which can be inward, outward or upward. This deviation can be constant or intermittent, and can predominate in one eye or alternate in both.
During the first four months of the baby's life is when a maturation occurs in the central nervous system and, if there is a defect, some symptoms of strabismus can already be observed. The deviation can be intermittent and alternating. Only when the deviation is constant can it be considered as a first symptom of an intraocular pathology with significant loss of vision from birth.
Contrary to what many may think and what happens in adults, strabismus in childhood does not produce double vision. During the first years of life, the child's brain suppresses the image of one of the eyes at the moment of deviation. That is why when there is a constant strabismus in one of the eyes, the image is suppressed and the eye with amblyopia, or lazy eye, appears in a secondary way. A child with strabismus focuses one eye on an object while the other does not follow in a coordinated way.
The defining characteristic of strabismus is the deviation of the eye and, for this reason, we can distinguish two types of strabismus:
- Convergent strabismus. The most common strabismus is the so-called convergent strabismus, in which the child turns his eye inward.
- Divergent strabismus. Outward deviation of the eye (divergent strabismus) is less common.
It is very important to note that strabismus is not only an aesthetic problem but, if it is not diagnosed quickly and is not treated correctly, it can lead to the development of amblyopia or lazy eye. Amblyopia is due to the fact that the child sees badly with the deviated eye and begins to suppress the vision of that eye, using only the healthy eye that allows clear vision. In this way, there is a progressive loss of vision in the deviated eye, which can cause total loss of vision in the eye, if it is not treated in time.
The real causes of strabismus are still unknown, although some studies have revealed that it is associated with a family history of the disease and periods of hypoxia during delivery. The origin of strabismus can also lie in a poor functioning of the ocular muscle, in a brain inability to fuse the image of both eyes, or in refractive errors that do not allow good vision and divert the eyes.
However, strabismus can also be acquired in secondary ways, through strokes, diabetes, vascular accidents, brain tumors, high blood pressure, neurological, muscular or degenerative diseases, among others. An infectious disease can also cause strabismus. Parasitic ones, such as toxoplasmosis, can cause problems at the ocular level. These parasites can be acquired in the first trimester of pregnancy, through the consumption of meat that is not very well cooked or supervised, or during close coexistence with cats and dogs, and damage the central nervous system.
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