A Brief Introduction to Pediatric Strabismus

Eye Health Articles

Short, to-the-point and filled to the brim with useful information.

Pediatric strabismus is a condition that predominantly affects newborn infants but it can develop over childhood up to ages 5 or 6.

The simplest introduction to pediatric strabismus is that it is a misalignment of the eyes. One or both eyes may turn in, out, up, or down, or may wander in different directions.

If your child shows any unusual misalignment, please visit us at Lynn Valley Optometry. We have the tools to help. Learn more about how vision therapy can help.

What Causes Pediatric Strabismus?

Each eye has several muscles which are dedicated to controlling its movement and orientation, as dictated by the neurological commands of the brain. When either the neurological control or physical muscle function experience problems, strabismus often occurs.

Unfortunately, strabismus may also be part of your genetic make up. If you or your partner suffered from this condition then your children face a higher-than-average risk.


It is important to remember that young children are unlikely to complain of their strabismus, because they do not experience pain or irritation.  Many children who have strabismus assume that what they are seeing due to their strabismus is normal.


Since one eye can often seem to drift out of position when a child is tired or closely examining an object, mild strabismus can go a while without being diagnosed. Parents, guardians and teachers are usually the first to notice when a child’s eyes aren’t quite straight.


Children who are old enough may describe double vision, a common problem with strabismus. For younger children, there are other small signs which could indicate a problem:

  • Squinting at objects regularly.
  • Rotating and tilting their head to view an object more clearly.


Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular corrective treatments for pediatric strabismus.


For mild strabismus, prescription eyeglasses may be able to realign the eyes.


Vision therapy is a series of exercises that provide natural, non-invasive correction.  It may seem like “eye exercise”, but the exercises actually form strong pathways in the brain to ensure a life-long change of your child’s visual abilities. Vision therapy has an impressive success rate in treating strabismus, both cosmetically and functionally.


If previous treatments didn’t work, your optometrist may recommend surgery. Strabismus surgery comes with several risks, and sometimes may improve the eye turn cosmetically, but not always improve a child’s functional vision.  This means that your child may still experience the same symptoms (i.e. double vision, etc.), despite the appearance of the eyes being aligned.  As a result, surgery should only be recommended if there truly is a problem with your child’s eye muscles.

Your child will not outgrow strabismus, so it is important that you bring your child in for an eye examination, or schedule a Developmental Vision Evaluation to assess the best treatment plan.