If you look in to a mirror or see a photograph of yourself, it’s sometimes possible to spot an imbalance between your two eyes. Or, possibly you may find others commenting on the fact your eyes seem to be crossed.
You may even be experiencing vision problems that lead you to wonder if your eyes are not balanced properly.
Becoming cross eyed is generally due to a condition that has the medical term strabismus. It can happen to both adults and children. This is when your eyes begin to work slightly independently from each other, instead of symmetrical.
So, both eyes don’t look in the same direction, at the same time. When you look down this can draw both eyes in towards your nose, creating the typical cross-eyed appearance.
This is caused by a weakening of the muscles or nerves that control the movements your eyeball makes. One eye may look slightly further up, down or to the side, instead of looking in the same direction as the other one.
It can result from a wide range of illnesses, but also from strokes and head injuries. It can also be genetic, and a characteristic of Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.
Strabismus is not something that self-corrects. Apart from the cosmetic effect and not wanting to appear cross eyed, this condition can lead to vision problems. Misalignment in your eye movements sends confusing messages to your brain. This includes having double vision, or poor depth perception.
Though the human brain is remarkable and can adjust to this issue over time, in more severe cases it can make working and driving impossible without corrective measures. This could include special lenses or surgery to create a better balance of muscle movement in your eyes.
Becoming cross eyed is also something that can happen when someone is extremely far-sighted. This is when your eye shape makes it harder for you to focus well on objects that are close to you. The strain from looking at things nearby can weaken the eye muscles.
Sometimes children can experience the appearance and side effects of looking cross-eyed. This could be due to something called amblyopia or lazy eye. Often, they will be provided with a plan and patches to rectify this imbalance while they are still growing and developing.
Babies can be born with eyes that appear crossed. This is called pseudostrabismus or false strabismus. It is “false” because it is a temporary misalignment in their eyes that rectifies as their face fills out.