Does your child seem to have vision problems? Has their pediatrician checked their eyes and determined that there's no cause for concern? Your child may have strabismus, a condition that can worsen over time and lead to long-term vision problems or total vision loss.
Why Your Pediatrician Missed The Signs
Strabismus is a condition that interferes with how the brain interprets the signals sent to it from the eyes. In a person without strabismus, each eye sees an image, but those images are combined into a single image before the brain receives them. In a person with strabismus, though, the images are never combined; the brain receives two different images. Each of the two images a person with strabismus sees can be in perfect focus, but when the brain must work to interpret both images at once it causes double vision and poor depth perception.
Strabismus can also be present with or without amblyopia. Amblyopia can occur when strabismus worsens and the brain eventually learns to just tune-out the images it receives from the weaker eyeball. In rare occasions, the brain will respond to strabismus by reducing the vision in both eyes, creating double amblyopia and vision impairment in both eyes.
The reason the doctor may have missed diagnosing strabismus in your child is because it can be hard to spot in children. The eyes resting in peculiar positions is a telltale sign, yes; but the eyes may only droop or become misaligned on occasion .Since a person with strabismus can technically have 20/20 vision and the eyes may only appear to mis-focus occasionally, doctors sometimes have no way of detecting the condition in a child unless the child expresses that they are having vision problems. If your child has had strabismus since birth, they likely don't even notice their vision problem because they've never seen things in any other way.
What To Look For
Don't assume your child's eyes get droopy just because they're tired. If you notice that only one of your child's eyes seems to be focusing on an object, even if only on rare occasion, it could be caused by the early stages of strabismus.
Another thing to look for in your child is problems with depth perception. For example, they may miss the table when setting a cup down or bump into things more than the average child. Strabismus can also cause children's schoolwork to suffer, which it is sometimes misdiagnosed as a learning disorder. If your child is having difficulty completing their schoolwork, the root of the problem could be strabismus.
What To Do If You See The Signs
If you notice any instances of your child's eyes not focusing together, or if your child seems excessively clumsy or their school work is suffering, visit an eye doctor. Strabismus can be easily missed on those simple vision tests performed by school nurses and primary care physicians. You need to visit a specialist who is well-trained in spotting the symptoms of difficult-to-diagnose vision problems.
The eye doctor will likely refer your child to a vision therapy center. Vision therapy uses individualized, non-invasive procedures and eye exercises to alter how an individual's brain processes information transmitted to it by the eyes. The goal of vision therapy for strabismus is to create stereopsis. Stereopsis means that the brain receives the images from both eyes simultaneously, and processes them together to create the perception of depth. The success rate of vision therapy varies depending on the severity of the problem, and those who get treatment early in the progression of the condition generally see more favorable results.
If you think your child has vision problems, don't take the word of a doctor or school nurse that says your child is fine. Strabismus is a condition that interferes with vision indirectly, but with the way your child's brain receives images and interprets them. And if left untreated, strabismus can lead to amblyopia and your child could lose total vision in one or both eyes. Even if your child has recently passed a vision test, get them to a specialist if you suspect a problem. It takes a trained professional, like those at Absolute Vision Care, to diagnose strabismus and develop a course of action to correct the way your child's brain receives images from their eyes.
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