When eyes go crossed

By • Published: April 8th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’re an eight-year-old boy, being able to cross your eyes might earn you a few cool points on the playground.

But if you were the kid who always had crossed eyes, the other kids might not have been so nice.

More than seven million people in the United States have a condition that affects how their eyes line up, resulting in one or both eyes appearing crossed. Known as strabismus, it occurs when the muscles that control our eyes don’t work properly together.

A person with strabismus may not appear cross-eyed all the time. The problem might only occur every so often, like when you’re feeling stressed from work or battling a cold. Also, both eyes may not appear to be crossed. Of course, the end result is the same … one eye points one way. The other eye looks somewhere else.

For some folks, strabismus is a problem they have battled since childhood. But certain diseases can also trigger the condition in people who have never had crossed eyes. Uncontrolled diabetes has been linked to strabismus, and an injury or brain tumor can affect your vision, too.

If left untreated, the condition could lead to vision loss, or a loss of depth perception.

If you have developed crossed eyes or think your child might have this problem, the first step toward improving eyesight is scheduling a trip to the ophthalmologist. Generally, doctors try to correct the condition with glasses first, particularly if the case is not severe.

But experts say sometimes surgery is warranted. And although most people associate Botox with smoothing out unwanted wrinkles, the drug is also prescribed for some patients with strabismus, to help a weak eye build strength by relaxing some of the muscles that pull it to one side.

Ultimately, if you have crossed eyes, there are options out there to help put your eyesight back on the straight and narrow.