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Childhood Eye Problems Linked to Upbringing

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Treatments for strabismus includes corrective lenses, Botox (a drug that is injected and temporarily relaxes the eye muscle, allowing the opposite muscle to tighten and straighten the eye), and surgery. However, for developmentally delayed children -- especially those who have developmental disorders due to Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, or hydrocephalus -- surgery is often the best treatment, according to Demorest.

During surgery, the ophthalmologist makes a small incision in the tissue covering the eye to reach the eye muscles. These muscles are repositioned, depending on which direction the eye is turning.

"Children with neurodevelopmental delays, regardless of their socioeconomic class, are less predictable in their responses to medical and surgical treatment simply because their neuromuscular systems are not normal," Gary T. Denslow, MD, clinical professor of pediatric ophthalmology at the Children's Center at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., tells WebMD.

Simon agrees. "These patients do tend to be a little more unpredictable in their responses to treatment, including surgery," he says, "so we tend to be more conservative in doing surgery on these patients. If we moved the muscles in these patients as much as we do in normal patients, they tend to be overcorrected, so less is more with these patients."

When strabismus surgery is performed on children, a general anesthetic is required. Recovery time is rapid. According to a patient information document by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, patients "are usually able to resume their normal activities with a few days."


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