Three Simple Vision Exercises for Strabismus

People with strabismus are often referred to as having ‘crossed eyes’ because it’s a condition where both eyes don’t look in the same direction at any one time. One eye may be turned inwards (known as esotropia), outwards (exotropia), upwards (hypertropia) or downwards (hypotropia).

The condition most often occurs in babies and young children although it can also happen to adults as the result of a stroke, diabetes or head injury. It won’t be cured without some action and early treatment is recommended since the condition can lead to other problems such as a lack of depth perception, double vision and even loss of eyesight.

Vision Exercises that Help

Strabismus can be caused by a problem with the muscles and nerves that control the eyes. Exercises can help and the ones most often recommended are all convergent techniques:

  • Pencil pushups are also known as near point of convergence exercises and are intended to get both eyes aimed at the same point. Hold a pencil at arm’s length and slowly move it nearer to your nose while focusing on a fixed point on it. Once the image goes out of focus and you see two pencils, move the pencil away and start again. Repeat the exercise a few times each day.
  • Brodie string aims to improve eye coordination by using a piece of string, five feet long, with three beads of assorted colours spaced equally along it. Tie one end to a static point such as a chair or a rail and hold the other end tightly against your nose. Focus on the closest bead until you see two strings forming an X with the focused bead at the intersection and the other two duplicated at each end.

    If the bead is not exactly at the intersection, you need to re-focus. Repeat with the second and third beads although the furthest will be at the point of two strings forming a V with the other beads again duplicated.

  • Barrel cards is particularly useful for exotropia. Draw three barrels lengthways on a piece of card. These barrels will be small, medium then large, in red on one side and then repeated in green on the other. Hold the card vertically with the edge against your nose so you can see the red barrels with one eye and the green ones with the other one.
    Focus on the barrels that are farthest away so that the two barrels combine as one image. After five seconds, repeat for the middle barrels and then again for the nearest ones.

Getting Additional Help

Although these eye exercises can certainly help to improve coordination, you should only use them in addition to medical treatment rather than instead of it. The health of your eyes is extremely important, and strabismus can lead to other, more serious, conditions that endanger their well-being.

Treatment can include prescription glasses, eye drops or injections to relax the muscles and even surgery that will align your eyes correctly. At Microprism Vision, we have experienced and knowledgeable optometrists in Melbourne who can examine your eyes thoroughly and provide the very best vision therapy treatment for Strabismus. So contact us today and we’ll help you correct your strabismus and any other eye conditions which require attention.