Struggling with Strabismus? Vision Therapy Can Help
Commonly called "crossed eyes," strabismus occurs due to a misalignment of the eyes. If this vision disorder isn't treated promptly, you may face problems that could make your life much more difficult. Luckily, vision therapy can improve vision for both children and adults.
What Is Strabismus?
Strabismus may happen if the part of the brain that coordinates eye movement doesn't work as well as it should or if your eye muscles are weak. Your vision problems may also be due to a combination of these issues. Strabismus causes a variety of symptoms, including:
- Blurred Vision
- Double Vision
- Eye-Hand Coordination Problems
- Poor Depth Perception
- Motion Sickness
- Fatigue When Reading
- Difficulty Keeping Your Place When You Read
- Trouble Concentrating
- Tilting Your Head to See Objects More Clearly
According to the American Optometric Association, you may be more likely to develop strabismus if other members of your family have the disorder, you have uncorrected hyperopia (farsightedness), you've had a stroke or head injury, or have Down syndrome or cerebral palsy.
Unfortunately, strabismus can lead to another vision disorder called amblyopia (lazy eye) if it's untreated. Amblyopia happens when the brain becomes confused because it receives different information from your misaligned eyes. Eventually, the brain ignores the information from one eye, which only makes blurriness, double vision and depth perception issues worse.
Wondering if you could have strabismus even though your eyes look fine? Unfortunately, the condition isn't always noticeable. If one eye turns slightly inward, outward, up or down, you could experience symptoms.
How Do Vision Therapists Treat Strabismus?
Vision therapy strengthens your eye muscles, if needed, while also improving the connection between your eyes and brain. Before therapy begins, your vision therapist performs a comprehensive eye examination and conducts a few tests that provide additional information about your vision problems. The result of the exams and tests help your therapist create a vision therapy plan for you.
Vision therapy treatment plans include a variety of activities and games and may also involve special lenses, filters and prisms.
A vision therapy plan for strabismus might include:
- Prism Lenses. Prism lenses help reduce double vision due to strabismus. When you look through a prism, an object appears higher or lower or more centered than it would look without the lens. Adjusting the position of the objects your see with prisms offer a simple way to improve your symptoms.
- Brock String Activities. Brock string activities help you use both eyes to focus on objects. Activities involve three beads suspended on a 10' string. When you perform the activities, you'll move the beads closer or farther from your eyes. For example, you might notice that you see two beads instead of one when you move the first bead closer to your eyes. Although you may initially need to keep the bead far from your face to see a single bead, you'll eventually be able to keep the bead in focus at closer distances.
- Red/Green Glasses. The same type of red/green glasses worn to watch 3D movies may be part of your treatment plan. You may be surprised to find that some letters of a word disappear when looking through either the red or green lens. Although people with normal vision can combine the images into once clear image, this can be very difficult if you have strabismus. Wearing the glasses while performing activities makes it easier to tell which eye is dominant and helps you learn to use both eyes together.
- Video Games. Vision therapy often includes video games that involve shooting moving targets, identifying moving letters, or popping bubbles. While you enjoy your gaming session, you'll also be enhancing your focusing, tracking and eye teaming skills.
- Old School Games. You may also play a few classic games as part of your treatment, including games like Whac-a-Mole. The mole-bashing game improves your eye-hand coordination and helps you make better use of your peripheral (side) vision. Without good peripheral vision, it's difficult for both eyes to work together as a team.
- Virtual Reality Games. Virtual reality games offer an excellent way to address vision problems caused by strabismus and amblyopia. Before you begin playing, your vision therapist can dim or brighten what you see in each eye, forcing your brain to use both eyes equally.
Want to find out if vision therapy can help your strabismus symptoms? Call our office to schedule your visit with the vision therapist.
American Optometric Association: Strabismus
American Academy for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 11/3/2021: Strabismus
American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Is Adult Strabismus?, 9/6/2022
Time: This Virtual Reality Game Could Help Treat Lazy Eye, 1/5/16