Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are not able to look at the same object at the same time. It typically involves double vision or amblyopia (the brain turns off the visual processing of one eye).
The misaligned eye brings to the brain a different image from the one of the other eye, causing a very annoying double vision.
In case the patient is a child, the brain tend to exclude, or more precisely to ignore, the information provided from the misaligned eye, because it causes confusion. The misaligned eye is not used and therefore it does not develop or loses its visual acuity, until it produces an amblyopia (the eye fails to achieve normal visual acuity, even with prescription of eye glasses or contact lenses). In children under the age of 6, the more amblyopia is ignored, the more it will be difficult to bring the visual acuity of the misaligned eye back to normal. The amblyopia prevention is certainly the most important reason to treat promptly a child with strabismus. In adults, on the other hand, strabismus causes double vision (diplopia) because brain is used to combine the images coming from both eyes and it’s not able to exclude the image from the misaligned eye.
The eye affected by strabismus becomes a “lazy eye” (amblyopic) and if it is not properly treated, it will not be able to achieve a good visual acuity any more (even with the use of eyeglasses). The simplest and most effective way to treat this condition is to force the use of the amblyopic eye by covering the dominant eye (with an eye patch). Thus it is important to know that a child with strabismus has to be treated as soon as possible and that the best results can be achieved starting the different treatments (eyeglasses and eye patch) when the child is just a baby.
In case of adults affected by strabismus there is no risk of visual hypodevelopment, while diplopia usually arises. Generally diplopia too, as amblyopia, can be corrected by different treatments, from the eye patch to the use of prism lenses, Botulinum Toxin or eye surgery.
The choice of the operation will be taken depending on the type of strabismus, and the surgeon will evaluate the typology and gravity of the operation on the basis of his experience.