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Study: Cross-Eyed Kids Less Accepted by Peers

Researchers Urge Early Intervention to Align Children's Eyes
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How Strabismus Affects Children: Results

The children who were aged 6 and older were much less likely to invite a child with strabismus to their party.

Although only one of the 31 children aged 4 to 6 didn't select a single child with strabismus, 18 of the 48 children aged 6 to 8 did not.

None of the children aged 6 to 8 chose a child with strabismus all four times, but three of the children aged 4 to 6 did.

When asked if they noticed anything in particular about the twins, the percentage of kids who made specific comments about the eyes increased with age:

  • 19% of kids aged 4 to 6 commented on eye alignment without being asked to pay attention to eyes.
  • 48% of kids aged 6 to 8 commented on the eyes without being asked to notice eyes.

As to why the younger kids didn't notice as much, the researchers say those younger than age 4 tend to process faces differently, looking at them ''piecemeal'' rather than holistically. So they may not realize the two eyes are misaligned, as they don't look at them as part of a whole, but individually.

The study results match anecdotal reports, Mojon tells WebMD. "Many parents actually are telling us they are noticing that, around that age, the children start discriminating."

Bottom line? The Swiss researchers suggest corrective surgery for the misaligned eyes should be done before age 6, to fend off social problems. "It's really important now, with these results, not to do it later than age 5," Mojon says

How Strabismus Affects Children: Second Opinion

Plotnik agrees and says the psychological effects of having crossed eyes should not be minimized. "There have been many well-documented studies on adults that have shown misaligned eyes can be more than just a trivial psychological problem," Plotnik tells WebMD. "Strabismus in adults, when it is noticeable by others, can interfere with a person's self-image, be a source of ridicule, and can affect the way that individuals are perceived by others."

The effect in children has been less well studied, he says.

Eye muscle surgery, one way to correct the problem, has a good success rate, Plotnik says, although more than one surgery may be needed to achieve correction.

 

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