Crossed eyes and lazy eyes are conditions that typically affect children. Crossed eyes result when the eyes don't move together. This can be an intermittent condition, brought on by stress or other triggers, or one that is constant. A lazy eye occurs when one eye doesn't focus as well as the other. The brain begins to ignore its visual signals, relying only on the stronger eye. It's best to diagnose and treat either of these conditions as early in life as possible, but even older children and adults can benefit from vision therapy to overcome these problems.
One of the most effective treatments for a lazy eye or an intermittently crossed eye is to wear an eye patch over the dominant eye. By occluding the stronger eye, the weaker eye is forced to exercise and becomes stronger. Often the patient must wear the eye patch for several weeks or even a few months. The process requires patience but can help bring the eyes into better alignment, improving overall vision.
Professional Vision Therapy
In young children, the standard treatment for crossed eyes is surgery. Older children and adults can benefit from vision therapy before resorting to surgery. Often, vision therapy provides very satisfying results and is completely non-invasive.
Vision therapy uses in-office visits and feedback from an eye doctor to get the best results. The patient will visit the eye doctor once or twice a week and do a variety of exercises meant to strengthen both eyes and to improve how efficiently the patient is able to process visual information.
At-Home Eye Exercises
Patients working to correct a crossed eye can also perform eye exercises at home. Challenging the eye in a number of ways is key.
One exercise is to attempt to focus on an object as it draws nearer to your face. For example, you might bring a pencil eraser toward your nose, keeping it in sharp focus for as long as possible.
Another exercise is to focus on objects to one side or the other of your head, using only your eyes rather than turning your head.
A third exercise is to switch your focus from an object that is near --- within 2 feet --- to one that is farther away --- 20 feet or more. Switch between the objects rapidly to help your eyes strengthen their ability to focus on objects at a variety of distances. Bring each object into the best focus you can before switching your focus to another object.
Doing eye exercise at home provides the most benefit when combined with doctor-led vision therapy sessions.