Adult Strabismus

Adult strabismus—a misalignment of the eyes that occurs when the muscles in each eye are unable to move the eyes together—can be a recurrence from childhood, or it can be acquired in the adult years. Strabismus that develops later on can be caused by stroke, ischemic disease, tumors, thyroid eye disease, diabetes, or certain neurologic conditions. It can also develop following eye surgery for cataractsglaucoma, or retinal detachment.

Double-vision or “visual confusion” is common in adults with strabismus. Others find that their eyes begin to wander involuntarily, resulting in discomfort and eye strain. Just as troublesome for many people are the emotional, social, and economic issues attached to having an obvious eye disorder like strabismus. 

How is Adult Strabismus Treated?

New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) is widely known for its expertise in treating adult strabismus through both surgical and non-surgical approaches. In fact, we proudly serve as a referral center for other physicians across the region for their complex cases. Supporting our board-certified ophthalmologists is the area’s largest team of orthoptists, who bring to each case well-honed skills and years of experience testing, evaluating, and helping to treat ocular motor disorders like strabismus.

If the eye misalignment is minor and the individual has some double vision, treatment may consist of a prism attached to the eyeglass lens. These so-called prismatic glasses merge duplicate images of the same object into one clear image. If the misalignment is more advanced, our specialists may draw from a range of surgical options. These include procedures to either strengthen or weaken the eye muscles (depending on which direction the eye is turning), or to readjust the angle of motion. In cases involving nerve palsy, the surgeon may alter the muscles to get them to compensate for those that aren’t functioning properly.

Strabismus surgery for adults is done at NYEE on an outpatient basis. In the vast majority of cases, our patients notice significant improvement in their eye alignment or double-vision problems. Aside from additional procedures some patients require, the risks from strabismus surgery are minimal.