Crossed eyes, medically known as strabismus, is a condition where the eyes are misaligned and do not focus on the same point. This can cause one eye to turn inward, outward, upward, or downward while the other eye remains straight. When strabismus occurs in newborns, it can be a source of concern for parents. However, it’s important to understand that cross eye in newborns is relatively common and often resolves on its own as their visual system develops.
In this blog, we will delve into the causes of cross eye in newborns, available treatment options, and provide comprehensive tips for caring for a baby with strabismus.
Physiological Strabismus in Newborns
Cross eye in newborns, also known as physiological strabismus, is a common occurrence during the first few months of life. Physiological strabismus happens due to the immaturity of the eye muscles and the brain’s control over eye movements. As a result, the eyes may occasionally appear crossed. Fortunately, physiological strabismus typically resolves spontaneously as the baby’s visual system matures. It’s important for parents to understand that cross eye in newborns is often a temporary condition.
Persistent Cross Eye in Newborns: Causes and Diagnosis
If cross eye in newborns persists beyond the first few months or is more pronounced, it may indicate persistent strabismus. This condition can have various underlying causes, such as muscle imbalances, nerve problems, or structural abnormalities of the eyes. Therefore, to accurately diagnose the cause of cross eye in newborns, it is crucial to consult a pediatrician or an eye care specialist. In addition, they will perform a thorough examination to assess eye alignment and may conduct vision tests to determine the appropriate course of action.
Potential Treatment Options
Treating cross eye in newborns depends on the severity and underlying cause of strabismus. Treatment options for cross eye in newborns may include:
- Observation and Monitoring: In cases of mild physiological strabismus, no specific treatment may be required, and close monitoring of the baby’s eye alignment is sufficient. The majority of cases of physiological strabismus resolve on their own as the baby’s visual system matures. However, regular follow-up appointments are important to track the progress.
- Eyeglasses: Eyeglasses can be beneficial in correcting cross eye in newborns by providing visual correction and reducing eye strain. They may help improve eye alignment and visual acuity. The eye care specialist will determine if eyeglasses are suitable for the newborn’s specific needs.
- Eye Exercises and Patching: Eye exercises and patching are commonly used to treat cross eye in newborns, especially if amblyopia or “lazy eye” develops due to uncorrected strabismus. These techniques aim to strengthen the eye muscles and improve the brain’s ability to coordinate eye movements. Patching involves covering the stronger eye, stimulating the weaker eye to work harder and improve visual acuity.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to realign the eye muscles and correct cross eye in newborns. Pediatric ophthalmologists perform these procedures, adjusting the length or position of the eye muscles. Surgery is typically considered when other treatment methods have not been effective or when the strabismus is severe.
- Vision Therapy: Vision therapy involves a series of exercises and activities designed to improve the coordination between the eyes and the brain. It can be particularly helpful in cases where the underlying cause of strabismus is related to visual processing issues or poor eye muscle control. Vision therapy is usually performed under the guidance of a trained eye care specialist.
- Vision Occlusion: Additionally, vision occlusion involves the use of special devices or lenses that partially block the vision in the stronger eye. By reducing the dominance of the stronger eye, this treatment option encourages the weaker eye to strengthen and align properly. Moreover, vision occlusion can be used in combination with other treatment methods.
It’s important to note that the appropriate treatment option for strabismus in newborns will depend on several factors, including the severity of the strabismus, the presence of any underlying conditions, and the recommendation of an eye care specialist. Early intervention is crucial, so it’s advisable to consult with a pediatric ophthalmologist or an eye care professional experienced in treating pediatric strabismus for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.
Care and Support for Babies with Crossed Eyes
Providing appropriate care and support is essential for babies with cross eye. Here are some key considerations:
Creating a Stimulating Visual Environment:
Encourage the newborn to explore their surroundings with stimulating visual stimuli, such as colorful toys and books. These activities promote visual development and eye coordination.
Maintaining Good Eye Hygiene:
Gently wipe the baby’s eyes with a clean, damp cloth to keep them clean. Avoid using harsh chemicals or rubbing the eyes vigorously, as this may cause irritation.
Regular Follow-up Appointments for Cross Eye in Newborns:
Schedule regular check-ups with the pediatrician or eye care specialist to monitor the baby’s eye alignment and ensure progress. These appointments are crucial for tracking any changes in the condition and adjusting the treatment plan accordingly.
Strabismus in newborns can impact their visual development and may require additional emotional support. Offering reassurance and creating a positive environment can help them develop a healthy self-image.
Encouraging Eye Exercises for Cross Eye in Newborns:
If prescribed by the eye care specialist, engage the newborn in age-appropriate eye exercises or activities to strengthen eye muscles and improve coordination. These exercises may include tracking objects with the eyes, playing peek-a-boo, or following moving toys.
Patching Compliance for Cross Eye in Newborns:
If patching is recommended as part of the treatment plan, ensure consistent and proper use of the eye patch. It may be challenging to keep the patch on a newborn, but finding creative ways to make it comfortable and engaging can help increase compliance.
Seeking Support Groups:
Consider joining support groups or seeking community resources for parents of newborns with cross eye. Connecting with other families facing similar challenges can provide valuable support, share experiences, and offer guidance.
It’s important to educate caregivers, including family members and childcare providers, about the condition of cross eye in newborns. Provide information about the treatment plan and emphasize the importance of consistent care and support.
Cross eye in newborns, or strabismus, is often a temporary condition that resolves as the baby’s visual system matures. However, persistent cases may require medical intervention. Understanding the causes, available treatment options, and providing appropriate care and support can help parents navigate this condition and promote healthy vision development in their newborns. Regular consultation with healthcare professionals is vital for accurate diagnosis and personalized guidance based on the baby’s specific situation.