I’m Worried about My Cross Eyed Baby
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Being a new parent is fraught with worries and concerns about your baby’s safety and health. Knowing whether your baby’s vision is healthy is hard to determine, especially if their eyes seem cross eyed, or misaligned.
The good news is, it is very common for newborns to have a cross-eyed appearance, and this can be due to a variety of factors, including:
- Extra skin folds in the inner corner of their eyes, which gives babies a cross-eyed appearance
- Your baby’s developing eye coordination, which may take upto 3-4 months to function properly
However, even with these common factors causing your baby’s eyes to cross, or look crossed, you should book an eye exam in their early months to make sure their eyes are healthy.
In fact, experts recommend that every baby get a thorough eye exam by six months of age to ensure their eyes are developing properly.
In some cases, the causes for crossed eyes can be more serious and need immediate attention, which is why exams are essential in the early months of development.
Other Causes for Crossed Eyes
If your baby’s eyes look crossed or misaligned, the problem could be strabismus (misaligned eyes) or amblyopia (lazy eye).
What Is Strabismus?
Strabismus occurs when there is a lack of coordination between the eyes. Babies whose eyes point in different directions or don’t focus on the same object could be suffering from strabismus
The cause for strabismus usually stems from the way the brain controls the eyes, rather than problems with the actual eye muscles themselves.
According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, “Most strabismus is the result of an abnormality of the poorly understood neuromuscular (including brain) control of eye movement.”
If your baby has strabismus and doesn’t receive treatment, his or her brain could start ignoring the input from one of his eyes, and this can cause the depth perception or vision in one of their eyes to deteriorate.
Once deterioration happens, amblyopia occurs.
How Can I Tell If My Baby Has Strabismus
First and foremost, you should book an appointment with your eye care professional to diagnose the issue properly. They will be able to test for strabismus through a variety of tests.
He or she can determine, for example, whether your baby has strabismus or pseudostrabismus, that latter of which occurs when your baby’s eyes appear to cross, but in reality they are not.
With pseudostrabismus, your baby’s crossed-eyes are an optical illusion caused by one of two factors: large eyelid folds or a wide nasal bridge.
Only an eye care professional can determine strabismus from pseudostrabismus accurately.
How Do I Treat Strabismus?
Strabismus can be a result of farsightedness or other vision problems, and in this case, can be corrected with glasses–especially if caught early. However, if it persists even with glasses, your baby may require surgical correction.
In these serious cases, even though the problem stems with the brain, doctors cannot change the way the brain functions. Instead, they resort to operating on the eye muscles.This eye surgery doesn’t ‘correct’ the problem per say, but it compensates for it.
What is Amblyopia
Amblyopia (also known as lazy eye) occurs when the brain suppresses vision in one eye. This happens if your baby’s eyes are misaligned or when they can’t see as well with one eye because of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, cataracts, drooping eyelids or other complications of the eyes.
Amblyopia affects 3 to 6 percent of children under the age of 6, but luckily, treatment is most successful before age 5 or 6–though recovery is possible in older children. If left untreated, however, it can lead to permanent vision loss.
How Can I Tell If My Baby Has Amblyopia?
Identifying Amblyopia isn’t easy because many babies don’t show signs of disability with the use of just one eye. Additionally, the less-used eye may look completely normal, even though your infant isn’t seeing clearly with it.
Because it is so hard to detect, it is extremely important to consult your doctor and eye care professional if you think your child has crossed eyes. He or she will be able to perform a number of important tests for both eyes to diagnose it properly.
How Do I Treat Amblyopia?
Once diagnosed, your eye care professional will try to either fix the issue by correcting any astigmatism or nearsightedness with glasses, by removing a cataracts with surgery, or by correcting any other vision complications of the eye.
Then, they will then get your baby’s brain to connect with the weaker eye, eventually improving its ability to see. They can do this with glasses, or in some cases, by covering the baby’s strong eye with a patch.
They also use eye drops to blur the vision in the strong eye in some cases. These practices force the weak eye to restore its vision, a process that takes weeks in some cases and years in others.
If you baby has crossed eyes, you might be worrying needlessly, or the problem could be something serious. The only way to find out for sure is to book an appointment for your baby with a professional optometrist or opthamologist.
They will give you an accurate assessment either way.