Strabismus, more commonly known as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, is a vision condition in which a person can not align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions. One or both of the eyes may turn in, out, up or down.

Strabismus can be both a cause and a consequence of a loss of sight in one eye, but what is certain is that it is not only an aesthetic problem and instead requires an intervention as early as possible, already around two years of life. This is one of the themes addressed at the 99th Congress of the Italian Ophthalmological Society (Soi), which opened today in Rome.

Strabismus in children, better to intervene already at 1 or 2 years, Unravel Malta
 © Copyright ANSA

Strabismus is a syndrome in which the visual axes are not parallel and the eyes cannot function together. “The child who suffers from it loses its three-dimensional vision, that is the ability to locate objects in space, for example it is difficult to pour water into a glass”, explains Emilio Campus, councilor Soi and director of eye clinic at the University of Bologna. If it is true that this problem causes a drop in vision in one eye, the cause and effect relationship is also in reverse: a drop in vision from one eye can cause strabismus.

“For example, in the case of subjects with a refractive defect, i.e. myopic or hypermetropic, or with a defect in the ocular musculature: the eye becomes ‘lazy’, or more correctly amblyopic, and loses sight. The same thing can happen in children that are born with a pathology, like a cataract or a rare form of malignant tumor, that prevents the development of the sight in one eye “.

The treatment changes depending on the underlying cause of this condition, ranging from the correction of a refractive defect with glasses, to the occlusion of the amblyopic eye, to surgery on the eye muscles. “The objective – adds the expert – is to re-establish a collaboration between the two eyes that allows the child to regain the three-dimensional vision. And the moment in which he intervenes is not before a year and a half. If the child is older, in fact, the possibility of sensory adaptations is lost, which instead can be achieved by intervening around one or two years of age”.

Strabismus in children, better to intervene already at 1 or 2 years, Unravel Malta
ANSA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

“In case of suspicion a simple test can be done, which consists in alternately tapping an eye to understand if the child grasps objects with the same certainty when looking only at the right or left eye”.