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Will My Child's Crossed Eyes Resolve on Their Own?

Will My Child's Crossed Eyes Resolve on Their Own?

If something seems wrong with the alignment of your baby’s eyes, keep -- well -- your eye on it. A wandering eye or crossed eyes can be normal in babies up until 4 months of age as their muscles strengthen and their eyes learn to focus. 

But if your child’s eyes remain crossed after 4 months of age, make an appointment with us at Penguin Pediatrics. We can help determine if crossed eyes indicate a medical issue or will have a long-term effect on your child’s vision. 

What causes crossed eyes?

Strabismus is the medical term for eyes that cross, wander, or don’t line up. You may notice one or both of your child’s eyes turn inward, outward, up, or down. 

A baby may be born with strabismus, or it can develop in childhood. The condition often runs in families. The crossed eyes usually align themselves in the first few months of your baby’s life. A child’s strabismus can be diagnosed later, though -- between the ages of 1 and 4 years. 

In rare cases, strabismus develops in older children after age 6. Do not delay in contacting our office if your child develops strabismus at an older age. We want to rule out possible neurological conditions. 

Sometimes, your child’s crossed eye only shows up when they are tired or extra focused on a task. You should still be watchful of a lazy eye in these cases and make sure it doesn’t worsen. 

What are the long-term concerns about crossed eyes?

When your child’s eyes don’t line up, the straighter, focused eye becomes stronger over time, and it has a better connection to the brain. The crossed eye doesn’t learn to focus properly and won’t develop the necessary brain connections that lead to clear, strong vision.

Eventually, the brain ignores signals coming from the weaker eye, which leads to lazy eye, also called amblyopia. Over time, a lazy eye can cause your child’s vision to be blurry or affect their depth perception and clarity. If left untreated, these problems may affect their long-term vision. 

How are crossed eyes treated?

If you notice crossed eyes in a small infant, we may adopt a wait-and-see approach, as the condition usually resolves on its own. 

But, if your toddler has strabismus, we’ll tailor treatment to strengthen the weaker, crossed eye. These include patches, eye drops, glasses, and -- in rarer cases -- eye muscle surgery. The goal is to straighten and strengthen the crossed eye and preserve vision. 

Eye patches or drops work by blocking the vision in the straight eye. Your child’s weaker eye has to work extra hard to see and the muscles and vision strengthen as a result. When these interventions don’t work, eye surgery can loosen or tighten the muscles that are causing a lazy eye to wander. 

The earlier your child’s strabismus is treated, the more likely their vision won’t be affected in the future. 

At Penguin Pediatrics, we offer comprehensive hearing and vision screenings for your child. As part of those screenings, we can detect crossed eyes. If your child’s lazy eye requires more in-depth treatment or surgery, we can refer you to a trusted specialist. 

Get your child’s vision checked and discuss any concerns you may have about their vision with us. Call one of our offices in Stone Ridge or Ashburn, Virginia, or use the online booking tool to make an appointment.

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