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Strabismus and Amblyopia in Children

  • Overview

    Here are some of the basics about strabismus:

    • Strabismus is one of the most common eye conditions in children, affecting between 2 and 4 percent of the population.
    • Strabismus occurs when the eyes are not aligned properly. One or both of your child’s eyes may turn inward (esotropia), outward (exotropia), upward (hypertropia) or downward (hypotropia).
    • Your child can be born with strabismus or it be acquired later in life. Strabismus can also develop as the result of an accident or other health problem. 
    • In some children, strabismus is intermittent, while in others it is always present.
    • Early diagnosis is essential in preventing vision loss that occurs as a result of amblyopia, also called “lazy eye". Amblyopia from strabismus occurs when vision does not develop normally during childhood because the eyes are not aligned.
    • Treatment of strabismus may include eyeglasses, patching or eye muscle surgery.

    How Boston Children's approaches strabismus

    The Pediatric and Adult Strabismus Services at Boston Children's offer comprehensive evaluation and correction of strabismus in babies, children and adults of all ages. Our highly experienced pediatric ophthalmologists are known locally and nationally for handling the most difficult cases of strabismus.

    Many children and adults with complex strabismus that involves multiple eye muscles and others who have had failed attempts at correcting strabismus elsewhere are routinely referred to Boston Children's. Here, we use baby- and child-friendly eye exams to detect strabismus and our physicians adopt innovative approaches to straighten your child’s eyes. Adults with strabismus are referred to our pediatric practice because ophthalmologists specially trained in childhood eye conditions have expertise in the delicate eye muscle surgery typically required to straighten the eyes.

    “Aligning the Eyes” webcast

    David Hunter, MD, PhD, ophthalmologist-in-chief, led a panel discussion about Duane syndrome, a congenital form of strabismus in which the eye has a limited range of motion. Boston Children’s is one of the few pediatric institutions that performs a sedated adjustable suture procedure. Learn more about this procedure and the webcast in the newsroom.


    Reviewed by: Carolyn Wu, MD. © Boston Children’s Hospital; 2012.

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO