Dispelling the Myths
It is important to dispel two common misconceptions about visual development in children:
Children do not outgrow crossing of the eyes. Many parents have been told that their child would outgrow this condition, which is simply not true. It is normal for the eyes of a newborn to cross or drift out. However, after four months of age, the eyes should be straight at all times.
Not all lazy eyes are crossed. Some children with amblyopia have crossed eyes, while others have perfectly straight eyes. In children with crossed eyes, one eye is usually “turned off” by the brain to avoid double vision. The ignored eye fails to develop fully, and amblyopia develops. In children with straight eyes, amblyopia is usually the result of one eye being more farsighted than the other. The brain ignores the images from the more farsighted eye and amblyopia results. Children can develop amblyopia between birth and seven years of age.
Detection and Diagnosis
Amblyopia can be more difficult to detect than strabismus. Many children with amblyopia show no obvious sign of a vision problem, since they use the normal eye to see and ignore the other. For this reason, early vision testing by your pediatrician or eye doctor is essential.
Amblyopia is detected during an eye exam by finding a difference in the vision between the two eyes.
Strabismus is usually recognized as a crossing or drifting out of one or both eyes. The drifting may be constant or intermittent.
Fortunately, most children with amblyopia and strabismus can be treated effectively.