The UCSF pediatric ophthalmology division cares for children who have certain unique eye disorders, including strabismus (misalignment of the eyes). Most cases involve failure of the brain mechanisms responsible for establishing or maintaining binocular fusion. Other causes include congenital or acquired problems with the actual eye muscles or their innervation.
Children with strabismus may have poor depth perception, impairing their ability to enjoy a normal three-dimensional view of their environment and, later in life, to perform certain jobs. They are also at risk of developing amblyopia (lazy eye). When the brain receives two different images from the misaligned eyes, the brain will suppress the input from one of the eyes to avoid double vision, resulting in poor vision due to maldevelopment of the eye-brain connections for that eye.
An eye that sees poorly may become misaligned, and strabismus is often the presenting sign of loss of vision in children. Most forms of strabismus are not self-corrected and early referral and treatment is very important.
Treatment currently available for strabismus include eyeglasses, prisms, botulinum toxin injection to the eye muscles, surgery, and/or patching. Early referral and treatment is very important since the condition does not self-correct. The treatment choice depends on several factors, including age and type of misalignment.