I complimented the mother of this baby on her choice of baby eyeglasses and she was quick to point out that they were corrective eyeglasses for Strabismus. I said I assumed that they were corrective and was surprised to hear from her that many people thought they were just for fun and did not know that Strabismus, or misalignment of the eyes, is a common condition encountered in very young children. In fact, it may effect up to four percent of all children younger than six years of age.
The eyes crossing is rather common and considered normal under two months of age. However, if the eyes continue to cross when the child is three and four months of age, then the conditions of exotropia (eyes moving outward) or esoptropia (eyes crossing inward) become more of a concern.
A common misconception is that children with crossed eyes will outgrow the condition. This belief probably got started from the confusion between true strabismus and what is called “pseudostrabismus” or “pseudosquint. Pseudostrabismus is an optical illusion in which normal aligned eyes appear crossed due to an optical illusion.
This baby’s mom noticed that her left eye was crossing at the age of around 9 months and she talked to her pediatrician about it right away and they went to see an ophthalmologist. Baby Addie was diagnosed with esoptropia and has been wearing her baby eyeglasses ever since, she is now 18 months old. She will not need surgery and in the meantime she is very happy wearing her corrective lenses until she is a little older!
It is easy for us in the optical industry to forget about misconceptions people have about children’s vision issues and it is good to remind parents, teachers etc. that it is very important to check infant and children’s eyes on a regular basis and not to hesitate to see an eyecare professional if a child is showing any signs of being cross eyed. While there are several options of treatment for strabismus, the best option will depend upon the specific mechanism that is causing it.
I had finished this post and then I saw this from Market Watch: Survey Shows Less Than One in Five Infants Receive Critical First-Year Eye Exam – American Optometric Association’s American Eye-Q® Survey Reveals Understanding but Lack of Action When it Comes to Infant Eye Exams. It is an excellent article on the subject of infant eyecare.