Treatments for Strabismus and Amblyopia in Children

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The doctors and care team at Boston Children's Hospital specialize in family-centered care, which means that from your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family's needs and that you'll be an essential part of your child's care team.

When should my child be treated?

If strabismus is treated early, your child will have a better chance to use his or her eyes together to develop binocular vision and depth perception. It's also important to treat strabismus soon after diagnosis to avoid the onset of amblyopia, which can result in permanent vision loss. 

How does Boston Children's treat strabismus?

Each year, our pediatric ophthalmologists see numerous children with strabismus. We recognize that every child's condition is different with its own unique challenges — and as a result, strategies to correct one case may be different than the approach in another case.

Mild strabismus

  • Glasses: Your child's eye doctor may prescribe glassesto correct the alignment problem.
  • Patching: Sometimes your doctor may recommend placing a patch over the normally functioning eye for a number of hours every day. "Patching" can help remind the brain that it needs to pay attention to both eyes, which sometimes can improve the alignment.

Severe strabismus

  • Eye muscle surgeryis typically needed to straighten the eyes and prevent vision loss when other interventions don't work. 
  • The surgery involves detaching the muscle or muscles that is causing misalignment and reattaching it or them to a new spot.

What makes Boston Children's different?

If you come to Boston Children's, you have access to pediatric ophthalmologists who routinely treat difficult cases. Our eye doctors are actively involved in research that is shaping the way strabismus is detected and treated around the country and the world.

Some of our more innovative approaches for strabismus include:

Botox injections

Very few places in the New England region and in the country offer Botox (Botulinum Toxin A) injections as an option for treatment in children with strabismus. At Boston Children's, eye doctors can occasionally use Botox instead of eye muscle surgery to correct strabismus.

Sometimes, this method proves effective in children for whom surgery has not corrected the misalignment. For adults and older children, this treatment can be given in the office. For young children, the procedure is performed in the operating room with a brief anesthesia but without need for incisional muscle surgery. Curious about Botox injections? Here's what you need to know.

Adjustable sutures in eye muscle surgery

Adjustable sutures allow our ophthalmologists to readjust the position of your child's eye in the recovery room to avoid the need to schedule additional surgery. It may be hard to believe that a child would sit still for the adjustment of adjustable sutures, but our surgical and anesthesia teams perform these adjustments routinely and know how to help a child stay calm and cooperative throughout the process.

If a child is too young or too fearful to cooperate for adjustment, the procedure can be completed with a brief secondary anesthetic in the recovery room without needing to return for surgery. Want to read more about eye muscle surgery at Boston Children's? Here's what to expect.

Coping and support

There are many resources available for your family.

Boston Children's resources for families:

Patient to patient: Are you interested in talking with someone else whose child has been treated for strabismus or amblyopia? We can put you in touch with other families who have been through similar experiences and can share their stories.

On our For Patients and Families site, you can read all you need to know about:

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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