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Can Vision Therapy Help With Congenital Strabismus?

Hi, I’m Dr. Julie Steinhauer. In this episode of Ask Dr. Julie, I was asked a question recently online, probably on YouTube, of whether or not we can help someone who has congenital strabismus. The answer to that is yes.

Congenital strabismus is just meaning it was there pretty much early on, almost like from birth or shortly thereafter. Whether or not that is something that was due to some sort of trauma in the womb, or the birth process, or some sort of genetic familial thing, or lack of oxygen, who really knows on that one. But whether it is congenital or whether it is an acquired strabismus, there are things that we can do to help.

Now, in acquired strabismus, that just means that it came on after birth, sometime later on in life. Seemingly, if it came on maybe in adulthood or later in childhood, we would want to look at what is it that potentially caused this to come on. Was there some sort of stress? Was there some sort of problem, a sickness or illness or something that could have potentially been the trigger to this? There’s lots of things that can trigger acquired strabismus.

We do want to make sure that it’s not something that could be an indicator of something more serious. That we would want to dig into and find out if there are any other neurological problems, or signs, or headaches, or other things that could indicate something more serious going on, or maybe even like a stroke. Or in our older patients, it could be something like Parkinson’s or some sort of neurological problem that they might be having or MS. So whether it’s acquired or whether it is congenital, yes, strabismus is something that we can do something about.

Now, let me talk to you about how we do that. You know in tons of my videos, probably my favorite thing ever to really talk about is Syntonics goggles. The first thing that we are going to do is we are going to use Syntonics filters or goggles as sometimes I call them. But this is light therapy. We’re going to use that to trigger the brain to tell specific muscles how to realign themselves. So there are filters that kind of trigger the muscles of the eyes to realign more appropriately.

Now, depending on how big of an angle it is, this might be something that you notice like, “Wow, benefits from immediately like within weeks.” Or if it’s a really large angle, it might take longer, and you may notice some inconsistencies. Like some days, it’s really good. Some days, it’s like literally awful. It just might bounce around as the brain is kind of starting to learning how to signal the muscle appropriately to align the eye.

Now, we don’t just do the Syntonics.  We do other things besides this because there’s a little bit more of a hands-on or more action-oriented approach, which is the second part of the program. It’s kind of like a two-tiered approach or a two-prong approach. One being the light therapy, and two being the vision therapy, which is a little bit more hands-on and more kind of physical action. Where you might be patching an eye and learning to track or focus, or learning to stretch the eye over to certain areas if there’s a restriction, or if any eye kind of tends to turn in and the muscles are being pulled really tight.

So there are two halves to the program that are really, really important. We’re going to use those two things to help people learn how to align their eyes by teaching the brain what to do to signal the eyes appropriately. Then giving you a lot of activities that you’re going to be working on to train the brain to align the eyes, use the two eyes as a team, not allow the eyes to shut down or turn. Then also to develop depth perception.

I also want to just add that it really doesn’t matter what age you are. So obviously, this video is talking about congenital. So we’re talking about young, young children, babies, infants, toddlers, that kind of thing, babies and infants. We want to also always just point out that age is not a factor. You can actually have improvement with your strabismus at any age.

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