Strabismus: NON-SURGICAL TREATMENT
Our visual systems are designed to take a separate picture with each eye and have the pictures married in our brains (binocular fusion). Without fusion, we are at risk of double vision. The combination of the two pictures creates a three dimensional image, also known as “depth perception” or 3-D vision. Depth perception is critical to intelligently guiding our bodies to make sophisticated, coordinated movements. Strabismus is a failure of binocular fusion, in which a child or adult is unable to properly team and align their eyes together. This occurs in 1 out of 30 to 35 children. As a result, an eye will appear to wander out of alignment. Strabismus is often evident to the parent, and is often thought that the child will “grow out of it.” Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
A turned eye is rarely caused by a short or weak muscle. Many times it is accompanied with amblyopia or farsightedness and therefore the first step is a glasses prescription. More often than not, Optometric Vision Therapy is required to more completely teach the brain how to keep the eyes aligned. As a last resort, surgery is sometimes required. Modern technology and evidence has shown optometric vision therapy can correct strabismus and improve binocular function by safe and natural means.
The goal of any treatment should be to improve function, not just a cosmetic fix, therefore optometric vision therapy is highly recommended before other drastic measures such as patching or eye muscle surgery is considered. Our treatments may include lenses and non-invasive optometric vision therapy: a kind of biofeedback that teaches the brain to increase simultaneous processing of both eyes. Improved eye alignment is the reward of better fusion.
Strabismus surgery modifies the muscles around the eyes to align them cosmetically. However, this often requires multiple operations. And although the eyes may appear aligned after surgery, the individual will often have:
- Suppression and monocular vision (Only able to see with one eye)
- Poor or no depth perception
- Slower tracking ability
- Poor eye-hand coordination
- Poor spatial judgment
- Trouble with reading fluency
If surgery is required, pre-surgical optometric vision therapy usually makes the surgical outcome much more successful.
One scientist’s journey to achieve binocular vision after strabismus surgery: