In principle, the eyes—which are two separate units—should line up correctly to look in the same direction or at the same thing. That means the eyes should move harmoniously to stay aligned and achieve binocular vision.
Eye misalignment, also called strabismus, means that the eyes are not lined up as they should be, and they look in separate directions. One eye may look forward, while the other may focus elsewhere. That impairs vision because both eyes must focus on the same object to see correctly.
The eyes have six muscles that help move the eyes to the right, left, up, down, and at various angles. All six eye muscles must work together for the eyes to focus on the same object. The brain regulates these muscles.
People with eye misalignment usually have health problems like brain tumors, diabetes, stroke, or thyroid disease that can damage eye muscles. Head injuries, accidents, and eye-muscle damage from eye surgery can also injure eye muscles.
Sometimes the cause is not known, and the condition may develop in childhood or much later in life.
Common symptoms of eye misalignment include:
Eyes may be misaligned if they point in a different direction than intended. One eye may look at the object of your attention (fixing eye), while the other may look away from it (deviated eye).
In an ideal situation, the six eye muscles draw together and point your eyes in the same direction. With eye misalignment, the eye muscles have problems controlling movement because the eyes cannot maintain their normal position. As a result, the misaligned eye produces blurry visual images and reduces your ability to see sharply.
You cannot judge how far away something is from you when you cannot see sharply. Thus, you may trip or bump into things because you need to estimate distance accurately. Your clumsiness could be more than it seems if you often trip over things or bump into walls. It could signal eye misalignment.
You may develop eyestrain from closing one eye or squinting to see better. That often happens when the eye muscles are working together. Your brain may ignore the affected eye to prevent double vision, causing blurriness.
Blurriness in the affected eye may cause you to close or squint to look at something. That exercise ends up overworking your eye muscles, causing eyestrain.
To deal with eyestrain or even double vision, you may move or tilt your head at an angle to align your eyes. Thus, you may have eye misalignment if your vision improves when you tilt your head. Other eye misalignment symptoms you may experience include:
These symptoms may not necessarily imply that you have eye misalignment, but call your eye doctor to schedule an eye exam if you experience one or more of these signs.
For more common symptoms of eye misalignment, contact Chroma Optics at our office in Burlington, Vermont. Call (802) 497-1676 to book an appointment today.