Strabismus and heredity (genetics)

Father helps son ride bikeMy father had the same alternating exotropia that I have. I thought I had avoided passing it down to my children and grandchildren, but not so.

My daughter and granddaughter both got good results from my Optometrist. But at the end of the December, I took my 6 year old grandson to my Optometrist for an eye exam. She showed me how when a pencil is pushed near his nose one eye will jump out. The exotropia has been passed down to him. This just reinforces the importance of a thorough vision screening by a qualified and trained examiner as children enter school.

His dad (my son) will need to be tested also. I’ve never seen his eye drift out, but he did struggle during some of his school years. Now I wonder if there is an underlying vision problem that we missed.

Strabismus definitely runs in families. All children should have a comprehensive vision screening in the early elementary grades. But if you have strabismus, it is even more important for your children or grandchildren to have a thorough vision exam. If they struggle to see, school will also be a struggle for them.

Photo credit: Melodi 2

5 thoughts on “Strabismus and heredity (genetics)”

  1. Lois,
    Did you notice something in your grandson and take him to be evaluated or was this just a routine exam? Also, if you noticed first how old was he? Can a child be too young to evaluate?

  2. Good questions, Celia.

    I asked my Optometrist if there was any possibility my strabismus could be passed down through my children or grandchildren even though I never saw their eyes drift. My father had it, but I thought I had avoided passing it on to my offspring.

    My Optometrist said there could be subtle signs I had missed and recommended I bring them in. That’s why I took my grandson in. We had not seen any symptoms.

    She said vision therapy would be the best thing for him. But since his insurance does not cover it right now, she said we could just monitor it closely for now. She said if he starts having problems with school work, he will need the therapy. Meanwhile she is working to get more state-supported help to provide vision therapy for children with strabismus.

    My son (age 26, my grandson’s father) still needs to be evaluated for strabismus. I think for children it is more emergent that eye problems are found and treated quickly since they are just developing. But I do hope we can arrange an eye exam for my son sometime this year.

    My understanding is that the younger the better. There is a new program that encourages the evaluation of babies for eye problems. I’ll try to get that information posted on the main page of the blog this week!


    3/10/06 — I’ve posted the information about the new program for babies’ eye exams. See: InfantSEE: detecting strabismus in infants. I wish I’d been more aware of the importance of this when my children and grandchildren were infants!

  3. Caution,

    The Pencil push-up test is not a test to diagnose strabismus. A lot of normal people react in the same way, with the non-dominant eye deviating outward (9/10 cases). All this shows us is that the limit of the person’s converging ability has been reached. Parents often blame poor school results on bad eye sight but once again in most cases it’s not true.



  4. Hi everyone, I’m new to all this. I rlecntey had strabismus surgery and I was wondering how everyone else went after surgery? I have had esotropria ever since a very young age in my left eye. I’m now on my 7th day since surgery and I am experiencing terrible double vision. This is really scary and I am still unable to drive. I am quite fine inside the house only as soon as I go outside everything from a distance becomes double.Even closer on my left side aswell. Eager to drive and just get back to normal. Is there any hope out there?? Thanks

  5. Basi, it is not unusual to have some double vision after strabismus surgery. Doctors usually over-correct a little to compensate for the tendency for the eye to pull back toward it’s per-surgery position. But if it the double vision is not getting better after a couple of weeks you probably should phone your surgeon and ask for their recommendations.

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