Adult strabismus, or misaligned eyes, is when a person’s two eyes do not simultaneously align together, and instead, point in different directions. It may affect one or both eyes. Strabismus is frequently considered to be a childhood problem affecting about 5% of children. However, strabismus affects about 4% of adults in the U.S. In the worst cases, it can affect an adult’s independence.
There are several categories of adult strabismus. It can be a recurrence of childhood-onset strabismus or adult new-onset strabismus, which can be caused by orbital or head trauma, a stroke, brain tumor, orbital inflammatory disease, thyroid eye disease or other neurological or eye conditions.
Adult strabismus can very often be successfully treated with surgical and nonsurgical interventions. Our ophthalmologists at Union Square Eye Care are experts in the field and have helped countless patients overcome the condition.
Treatments for Strabismus
If addressed early, strabismus can often be treated very successfully. Your Union Square Eye Care ophthalmologist will work with you to determine the best treatment options, which can include eyeglasses, eye therapy and exercises, the use of prism lenses and/or eye muscle surgery in more severe cases.
Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses
Sometimes proper prescription eyeglasses or contact lenes may be all it takes to fix strabismus.
Prism lenses are special clear lenses that are wedge-shaped. They can be attached to existing eyeglasses or made part of the lens. The prisms alter the light as it enters the eye and minimize the turning of the eye. Sometimes the prisms can eliminate the eye turning althogether. They can also help some people with mild double vision.
Vision Therapy/Eye Exercises
Your Union Square Eye Care ophthalmologist can develop a program of exercises and visual activities to improve eye coordination and eye focusing to address strabismus. This type of vision therapy can help train the eyes and brain to work better together and can address problems with eye movement and focusing. It can also help with eye teaming, prompting the eyes to work more closely in concert with one another.
Botulinum Toxin (Botox)
An injection of botulinum toxin, or Botox, can help address strabismus by paralyzing the muscles that keep the eyes from aligning properly. Botox can be effective for a few months, or in some cases, it can permanently improve eye alignment.
Eye Muscle Surgery
When other interventions are not effective, your ophthalmologist may recommend eye muscle surgery, which has a high rate of success. During the surgery, the eye doctor will make an incision in the conjunctiva, the thin covering over the eye, before adjusting the length or position of the muscles around the eyes to help straighten them. A suture can be placed in the muscle to weaken it if it pulls to strongly, or it can be shortened to strengthen the muscle’s ability to pull.
Adult strabismus surgery may involve the use of adjustable sutures to allow for fine-tuning adjustments following surgery. Strabismus surgery is typically done under general anesthesia, as an outpatient procedure. It can be performed on one or both eyes, depending on the patient’s needs. Pain following the surgery is usually minimal.
Following the surgery, patients may still need continued vision therapy to improve eye coordination and prevent the eyes from becoming misaligned again.
Schedule a consultation
Union Square Eye Care is home to some of the world’s leading authorities on pediatric and adult strabismus correction. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you.