You know how your eyes are supposed to point in the same direction? Yeah, mine don’t always do that. It’s called strabismus. I have not had an official diagnosis, but that is the conclusion I have come to after doing some googling.

Sidenote: I actually use Bing as a search engine, but “googling” is a better term than “binging.”

In this post, I will share with you what I have discovered from my research and talk a bit about my own experience of having eyes that don’t always do what they’re told.

Firstly, what is strabismus?

Strabismus, or a squint, is a condition where the eyes don’t point in the same direction. It can happen in children, but it is more common in adults.

Normally we have binocular vision, which allows us to view the world in 3D. It allows us to judge distances and have a sense of depth perception. But if the eyes don’t point in the same direction, then we can’t see in 3D. Instead, what you have is two slightly different overlapping images competing with each other.

Or sometimes, the brain completely disregards the weaker eye altogether and only processes images from one eye. In children who have strabismus, the brain ignores the weaker eye and only shows images from the stronger eye.

However, if adults develop strabismus, the brain allows images from both eyes even if they point in different directions, which causes double vision.

What causes strabismus?

In adults, strabismus can be caused by various things such as

  • head injury
  • diseases like brain tumours, diabetes, or thyroid disease
  • damage to eye muscles during surgery

However, most adults have had strabismus since they were children.

My strabismus

I first noticed something wrong with my eyes when I was at University. I noticed that when I was tired, my eyes would be more likely to drift out and point somewhere else. But as the years progressed, it became more noticeable. This

They are not constantly pointing in different directions as I can point both eyes in the same direction for short periods. However, it takes a bit of effort, so it’s hard to do it for an extended period of time without getting a headache. I try to do it when I am talking to someone, taking a selfie, or reading something.

A close-up of a man's face wearing glasses and with the left eye pointing outwards and the right eye centred
As you can see, my left eye is looking outwards whereas my right eye is in the centre

I often have double vision where both eyes’ images aren’t combined into a coherent 3D image. It’s like watching a film but then having an image of the same scene but from a slightly different angle flickering over the top of the other one. I can switch to looking through either eye on its own, but when I try to focus both eyes on an object, it becomes harder, and my eyes start twitching.

I feel self-conscious about my eyes, so I try to hold them straight when talking to people and hope that they don’t notice too much. I tend to care too much about other people’s opinions when I shouldn’t. But I hope by writing this it will help people to understand more about strabismus.

How to treat strabismus

I mentioned the strabismus to my optician, and they told me to do an exercise called a pen push up. This involves holding a pen in your hand about an arm’s length away from your face. Slowly move the pen towards your nose as you focus on it with both eyes. This helps to train the eyes to work together, focusing on nearby and far away.

This is a good video that demonstrates the exercise:

I also use an app on my phone  called Eyecare plus, which I find helpful. It reminds you to do some guided exercises in the morning, afternoon, and evening, aiming to relax the eyes and improve focus, amongst other things. It’s a well-made app, and it was developed by optometrists, so it’s a good one to use.

It only seems to be available on android, though and not on iOS.

What other treatments are there?

There are several treatment options for strabismus. The most common is surgery to weaken or realign the muscles, stopping the eye from pointing in the right direction. Eye exercises can also be used, which I have mentioned above.

Prism glasses can be used to refract the image so that the person has single vision and not double vision. Lastly, Botox injections into the muscle can be used, which will paralyse the martial preventing the eye from turning.

A close-up image of an eye which is entirely black and white apart from the iris which is blue
This is just to show that my eyes can look quite pretty sometimes

However, the treatment used depends on what caused the strabismus to develop in the first place. I don’t know what caused my strabismus, but I would like to find out.

According to this post from the American Society of ophthalmology, it is never too late to treat strabismus, which is good to know.

Conclusion

I try not to draw attention to my strabismus, so I was in two minds about whether to write this post. But if this helps at least one person, it will be worth it. I hope that after reading this, you understand better what strabismus is, its causes and how it can be treated.

As I developed strabismus as an adult I think that there must have been a cause that could potentially be treated. So next time I see my GP, I will ask them about it.

I think it’s important to note that treating strabismus is not just for cosmetic reasons. Double vision caused by strabismus can make activities like reading or driving harder and having a squint can also impact your self-esteem and mental health. Plus in some cases, strabismus can be an indicator of underlying health problems so I think it’s best to get it checked out.

More information

if you want to learn more about strabismus, than I recommend taking a look at the following pages:

How to Take on Strabismus in Adults – Review of Ophthalmology

Strabismus in Adults, What You Need to Know

Squint (Strabismus) – Moorfields Eye Hospital

Fixing My Gaze – Sue Barry Tedx Talk

What is adult strabismus? – American Academy of Ophthalmology

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