At Vision+ Performance and Rehab, Blacksburg optometrists Dr. Dovie and Dr. Hempelmann may be able to offer an alternative to surgery for treatment of misaligned eyes. An eye turn, also known as strabismus, exists because the muscles around the eye are not working well together as a team. This allows the eyes to lose alignment and then one, or both, can drift, turn, etc. If the eyes are not lined up precisely, the brain gets different images from each eye, and becomes confused. This may lead to the brain ignoring images from what it thinks is the weaker eye. If the strabismus is left untreated the result could be blurred vision that can’t be treated with traditional glasses or contact lenses. This is amblyopia or “lazy eye.”
Strabismus can develop at any age, but it usually appears in childhood. The earlier the strabismus (and resulting amblyopia) are treated, the better the prognosis for regaining normal function. It was once thought that when a child reached the age of 7 these conditions could no longer be treated. Research has since proven this to be very wrong! The visual system is more flexible in the early childhood, so therapy may work more quickly, but these two conditions can be treated at any age. Click here to read the story of Stereo Sue. She is a neurobiologist who, in her late 40s, underwent vision development and rehab therapy for strabismus. She was eventually able to rehabilitate her system with optometric vision therapy to get full stereo-vision, or depth perception.
In general, medical advice is to consider all aspects of the nonsurgical treatment before considering surgery, and this includes strabismus. Vision development and rehab is successful in treating many types of strabismus without surgery. For strabismus, surgical outcome is considered a success when the cosmetic alignment of the eyes is better. This is only a cosmetic and STRUCTURAL success. Because the visual and visual perceptual pathways still aren’t talking well together, the patient will likely still not be using both eyes together. This means coordination of the eyes may still be impaired, and they will not develop depth perception. If and when surgery is required, optometric vision therapy after surgery can dramatically improve the FUNCTIONAL success rate of the surgery. At Vision+ Development and Rehab, we consider success to be when a patient can achieve functional vision – efficient tracking, coordination, and more, including depth perception, or 3D stereo vision.
Contact us to inquire about scheduling an evaluation for strabismus or amblyopia.