Should I be concerned if my child has crossed eyes? The answer is a resounding yes. When to be concerned is another question. During the first few months of life many infants appear cross-eyed at times. This normally resolves once they reach about 4 months. If your child still is having issues with a turned eye after that, it is definitely time to be concerned. We will explain why.
Esotropia is the medical name given when one or both eyes turn inward. It is a type of strabismus, or eye misalignment, and it can occur as the child looks in the distance or at closer range or both.
Esotropia in very young infants less than 20 weeks old is not an immediate cause for concern since it usually will correct naturally. Beyond that time frame, any crossed eye misalignment, either constant or intermittent, should be evaluated by a pediatric ophthalmologist like Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Associates in Newtown Square, PA.
When eyes are misaligned with esotropia, it will not go away and must be treated. It affects the way the eyes work together as a system and interact with the brain to see objects clearly. A child with esotropia may find images are blurred, have double vision, and experience decreased depth perception.
What Happens If Esotropia Is Not Treated
Parents may not notice the turned eye unless the child is very tired. The eye that is misaligned does not see as it should and the stronger, or straight, eye becomes the dominant eye. The turned eye does not focus and its connection to the brain never develops. Eventually the brain continues to ignore the misaligned eye allowing another problem to arise known as amblyopia, or lazy eye. This leads to double vision, and will become permanent unless it is treated. The key links between a child’s eyes and their brain form by about age 8, so early diagnosis is critical.
Treatment For Esotropia
There are several treatment options for esotropia:
- Prescription eyeglasses can often correct the misalignment. Prisms can be added to the glasses to help straighten the eye.
- Eye patching is another way to treat esotropia. The strong eye is patched for several hours a day to force the weak or turned eye to become stronger and see clearly. This can be a challenge for parents, but fun patches are available and allowing the child to pick theirs out, can encourage him or her to wear it.
- If the patching is not a workable option, eye drops can be administered to the strong eye to reduce vision. This makes the weak eye work harder to see and connect to the brain.
- Eye muscle surgery can be performed to correct the eye muscles if needed.
Going through life with crossed eyes can be an emotional issue affecting your child’s self confidence, but it will also cause vision issues affecting school work and sports activities.
Request an Appointment in Newtown Square
Contact Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Associates at (610) 347-7672 if you notice your child’s eye or eyes turning inward. Our board-certified pediatric ophthalmologists will take the time to evaluate your child’s symptoms in order to determine the treatment option that is right for them.