Eye Misalignment in Children: It’s Serious Business by Monica Bratton, M.D.

September 19, 2020

Monica Bratton, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and pediatric specialist at the Marietta Eye Clinic.

There are numerous eye conditions routinely detected and treated successfully in children with comprehensive, proactive eye exams. Early interventions in ocular diseases, such as infantile cataracts, strabismus (eye misalignment), and unequal refractive error, are crucial to ensuring normal visual development in a child.

Early Detection is Key

For optimal brain development, the connections between the brain and the eyes depend on equal, aligned, and clear vision. Therefore, it is crucial to identify early in children if their vision is equal in both eyes, if their eyes are properly aligned and if their vision is clear. For example, when one eye sees poorly or is misaligned, the brain begins to ignore that eye. The eye develops amblyopia, or becomes a ‘lazy eye.’ If left untreated, the damage can be permanent and irreversible.

Strabismus is a name given to any misalignment of the eyes, and in children the condition can become permanent if not diagnosed and treated early in life. Most strabismus is the result of an abnormality of the neuromuscular control of eye movement. Eye misalignment can cause each eye to be oriented in a different direction, which results in the brain ignoring the image from the misaligned eye, and as a result, the vision in that eye may develop improperly.

Can Any Child Develop Eye Misalignment?

Yes. Children who are developing normally in other areas of their health can still develop eye misalignment, and if left untreated, the effects will become permanent in almost all cases. This is why routine pediatric eye examinations by a trained specialist in pediatric ophthalmology will help to ensure your child does not develop a permanent eye disability. Certain other disorders, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, hydrocephalus, and brain tumors have a high association with eye misalignment in children. If your child has one of these conditions, ensure they have a comprehensive exam by a fellowship-trained pediatric ophthalmologist.

Treating Eye Misalignment

Strabismus is best treated by a specialized medical doctor (M.D.) called an ophthalmologist who has fellowship training specifically in pediatric eye care and strabismus. When your ophthalmologist at the Marietta Eye Clinic treats eye misalignment or strabismus, the goal of their treatment protocol will be to improve the eye alignment of your child so the eyes work together better (binocular vision). The treatment methods can involve glasses, eye exercises, prisms, and sometimes eye muscle surgery.

The ophthalmologists at the Marietta Eye Clinic are highly trained, highly experienced, and highly skilled surgeons who operate at the surgery center owned and operated by the eye specialists at the Marietta Eye Clinic. The surgery center at the Marietta Eye Clinic is one of the most technologically advanced surgery centers in North Georgia and around Metro Atlanta. Your children always receive the latest and most sought after treatment programs when you entrust your children’s vision and well-being to the providers of this large group practice which has been in operation for over 50 years.

Even if your children are not experiencing one of the symptoms or eye health issues we’ve outlined above, it’s important to be proactive about their vision. Your children’s eyesight is crucial to their quality of life and future success in school, sports, and extra-curricular activities, so schedule an eye exam at Marietta Eye Clinic today to ensure that your children are seeing their very best.

More About Pediatric Specialist Monica Bratton, M.D.

Dr. Bratton is an ophthalmologist at the Marietta Eye Clinic who specializes in pediatrics and adult strabismus. She serves the Kennestone, Acworth, Douglasville, West Cobb, and Towne Lake offices. Dr. Bratton graduated with her bachelor of arts from the University of Tennessee and received her medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Read her full bio here.

References and Additional Resources

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. It describes itself as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.” Its website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes itself as the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals, and optometry students. 

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