Strabismus in newborns. How to treat crossed eyes?
Many babies are born with strabismus. They have crossed eyes and look either in in different directions (10%) or at the nose (90%).
Strabismus can be functional (normal) or persistent.
For a newborn, it’s a norm to have crossed eyes. Functional strabismus occurs quite often in newborns. The reasons for functional strabismus are banal. For a start, you should know that babies' eye motor skills are not well developed and newborns are only beginning to master their vision. Day by day, you will observe how your newborn learns to coordinate the eyes, to measure the distance, to look left — right, up — down.
Functional strabismus may persist for several months, until the eye muscles develops. Doctors call different periods for this process: 2, 4, and even 6 months. After this time, the eyes must learn to look in one direction.
Reasons for persistent strabismus start to develop during pregnancy. If the pregnancy was complicated or the woman had a difficult delivery, there can be small hemorrhages in the nerve centers of the baby, which are responsible for the formation of eyes. When this happens, strabismus is persistent.
Acute inflammatory processes, infectious and viral diseases can seriously reduce the immunity of the child and cause problems with eyes, including strabismus. One of the causes of persistent strabismus in children is improper infant care. In the article you’ll learn some rules how not to provoke persistent strabismus in your baby.
Should I consult a doctor about my newborn’s crossed eyes?
You should consult an ophthalmologist if
- your baby is three month and he can’t still focus on a toy;
- one or both eyes deflect to the side;
- your baby is 6 month and you sometimes notice that his eyes look in different directions.
|Remember that your baby’s vision largely depends upon you. So if you have any doubts, contact the specialists as early as possible.|
What to do to improve newborn vision?
Functional strabismus may turn into persistent if you do not follow safety precautions. Parents must know that babies are born farsighted (up to +3 diopters). That’s why you should observe some simple rules to improve your baby’s vision and not to provoke persistent strabismus.
- Don’t show small toys or other objects to your newborn.
- Don’t place toys too close to your baby’s eyes. The best distance to show objects is at your arm’s length.
- If you hang toys in front of your baby, hang them in the middle — just in front of the eyes for the baby to look straight ahead, but not too close.
- Don’t appear suddenly in front of your baby with a bright object. This can scare your newborn and cause strabismus.
How to treat persistent strabismus?
In medicine, there is a concept of lazy eye. It involves the suppression of the ability to see with the squinting eye. In a healthy person, both eyes see the same picture, and the brain receives the composed picture of a visible object. In infants with strabismus or squint, the brain is not able to make the two pictures in one, because the eyes see differently. As a result, the brain starts to perceive only one image of the healthy eye. If not to stop this process, it is almost impossible to cure blindness of the squinting eye even after elimination of strabismus.
There are about 20 types of strabismus. Only a specialist can make an accurate diagnosis. The treatment of strabismus should be complex. First and foremost, your doctor should perform a complete diagnostics of your baby’s vision and to identify the causes of his crossed eyes. If strabismus is associated with other diseases — hyperopia, myopia — a little patient needs glasses. However, wearing glasses is not enough. For persistent strabismus elimination your baby needs conservative treatment using modern instrumental methods, which help restore the «bridges» between the eyes, that is, teach the child to see the same image with both eyes.
Some little patients with persistent squint need surgery. An operation is performed on the eye muscles, which regulate the process of eye rotation. The aim of such an operation is to restore muscle balance. After the surgery, conservative treatment aimed at rehabilitation of the functions of the organs of vision is required. The child learns to see with both eyes and to develop a proper stereoscopic vision. Recovery can take a long time.
Children with congenital form of strabismus need an operation before 3 years of age. The operation is not difficult. For this surgery anesthesia is used, which allows to achieve relaxation of the eye muscles. The operation lasts from 20 to 90 minutes. The child may go home in two days after the operation. Strabismus is successfully eliminated in 97% of cases.