Pediatric Strabismus

About Pediatric Strabismus

You may have already noticed if your child or infant has some form of strabismus. In strabismus, the eyes are not aligned properly and so your child may appear cross-eyed. One or both eyes may turn inward, outward, upward, or downward. 

Strabismus is one of the most common eye conditions in children, affecting approximately two to four percent of the population. But make no mistake—strabismus is not just a cosmetic problem or something your child will just simply grow out it. 

Strabismus can lead to permanent vision problems, such as double vision, problems with depth perception, or amblyopia (potentially leading to permanently decreased vision an eye). It can also be a sign of an underlying health or neurological conditions, such as a tumor, eye malformations, neuromuscular syndromes. It can also occur as the result of trauma, stroke, inflammatory conditions, or thyroid disease. Moreover, the sudden appearance of strabismus in an older child, especially when combined with double vision, could indicate a serious neurologic disorder.


Strabismus can be noticeable in infants and in children as young as three months old, possibly younger. A Columbia pediatric ophthalmologist can help determine the cause of the strabismus in an exam.

During the exam, our pediatric ophthalmologist will be able to identify if your child has strabismus, as well as the severity, and the impact it may be having on your child's vision. Your child might need more testing. Doctors use this test to assess strabismus by shining a light in the child's eyes and observing where the light reflects off the corneas.

Treatments We Offer

Treatment is particularly critical in early childhood to prevent permanent vision loss or other sight problems. Columbia offers timely and effective treatments that may include:

  • Prescription eyeglasses
  • Patching over the normal functioning eye for a certain period during the day
  • Topical medications
  • Eye muscle surgery
  • Eye muscle exercises

Don’t be alarmed if your child needs eye muscle surgery. In most cases, it is an outpatient procedure that typically lasts between 30 minutes and two hours. Oculomotor exercises can also be used at times in strabismus treatment with or without surgery. In an oculomotor exercise program, eye exercises, lenses, or a combination with other therapy activities are used to treat the brain and nervous system that control the eye muscles.

Why Choose Columbia?

Here at Columbia, our pediatric ophthalmologists provide world-class strabismus care. We use the most advanced and comprehensive diagnostic testing which makes Columbia an ideal center to help your child. Using the resources of the Harkness Eye Institute, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York and the many research breakthroughs discovered at Columbia, our team of experts will diagnose, treat, and manage your child's condition with unparalleled care.

We know that treatment can be scary for kids. At Columbia, your child is not just a patient, but a young person who will need a compassionate approach and age-appropriate explanations of what they are going through and how they are going to be helped. We take the time to reassure both you and your child at every step along the path to better eye health.