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My Baby is Duling or Banlag — What Parents Should Know About Misaligned Eyes in Babies

You’re over the moon with your new baby, kissing him every moment you get and just basking in his cute, cuddly, baby-ness. But then he looks at you and you notice something weird about his eyes. He blinks and it’s gone. You dismiss it but then it happens again a few times after — confirming, that your baby sometimes gets duling (cross-eyed) or banlag (lazy eye). As parents, we want nothing but health and happiness for our kids, so seeing him getting duling or banlag might be a bit worrying for us. But should we worry about it?

Is it normal?

It is normal for a newborn baby’s eyes to get cross-eyed or lazy eye up to until about 4 months of age. If your baby gets it, you can try to gently caress his eye are to coax him to close his eyes — most of the time when he opens them again, his eyes will be aligned. But if you notice that his eyes seem crossed or misaligned most of the time, or if it doesn’t get better as he grows older, then it is best to consult your Pediatrician.

Nevertheless, here are a few things you should know about misaligned eyes in babies.

Cross-eye in babies

If your baby’s eyes seem to appear “crossed,” or one may seem to drift inward, outward, or upward, then your child might have strabismus. Strabismus is a lack of coordination between the eyes and can be traced to a problem with the way the brain controls the eyes and is not a problem in the eye muscles.

Does my child have strabismus?

If your child’s eyes appear to be crossed or seem to drift as aforementioned constantly or intermittently (happens every now and then), then he might have strabismus. Although there are instances when they only appear misaligned especially when he looks right or left, but are in fact aligned — this is called pseudostrabismus. Pseudostrabismus is an optical illusion wherein a child’s eyes can appear to cross inward, which can be caused by large eyelid folds or a wide nasal bridge. Only a Doctor can determine if your child has strabismus or pseudostrabismus through a simple examination.

What causes strabismus?

Strabismus can sometimes be present at birth and seems to run in families. Although it can also show up in babies with no previous family history — which is sometimes indicative of a more significant vision problem. Certain disorders such as cerebral palsy or down syndrome can also make it more probable. At the same time, babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight also have a higher risk of getting it.

What is the treatment for strabismus?

Strabismus that’s caused by farsightedness can be possibly corrected by glasses, especially if detected early on. However, if the strabismus persists in spite of corrective glasses, then the child might require surgical correction. The surgery will be done on the eye muscles and can compensate for the problem.

Lazy eye in babies

On the other hand, lazy eye or amblyopia is when your child’s eyes are misaligned. Amblyopia develops when the brain shuts off or suppresses the vision in one eye, thereby causing the eyes to look misaligned. It can also occur when your child could not see properly in one eye because of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or even something that could be blocking one eye’s vision such as a cataract or a drooping eyelid.

Does my child have amblyopia?

Your child might have amblyopia if one of his eyes sometimes seem to lose focus (banlag). Your Doctor should be able to test and identify if your child has amblyopia, but it is also a good idea to occasionally test your child’s vision at home. Here’s a simple way to do it:

  • Cover one of your child’s eyes (you can ask someone to also help you with this). Hold an object — a toy or a photo in front of him.
  • Slowly move the object from side to side and up and down. See if the uncovered eye follows it. Do the same with the other eye.

Granted, it may be tricky to test a small child, but if one eye seems to weaker in following or focusing on the object, then try to do the test a number of times more to confirm. If your child seems to consistently see better with one eye compared to the other, then it is best to consult your Doctor.

What is the treatment for amblyopia?

If the amblyopia is caused by astigmatism or nearsightedness, then glasses correcting these would be the first treatment, or in the case of cataract, surgery. If the amblyopia is caused by an eye problem, then the glasses will help the weaker eye to focus, providing a clearer image to the brain and improving eye-brain connection. However, if it is not caused by a problem that cannot be treated by glasses or surgery, then your Doctor might recommend covering the stronger eye to force your child’s brain to use the weak eye — which is a process that could take weeks, months, or years.

Sources:

AAPOS. Undated. Strabismus. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

Medscape. Undated. Pseudoexotropia.

MedlinePlus. 2012. Strabismus.

MedlinePlus. Undated. Retinopathy of prematurity.

Nemours Foundation. Undated. Strabismus.

UpToDate. 2014. Patient information: Crossed eyes and lazy eye (the basics).

UpToDate. 2013. Evaluation and management of strabismus in children.

 

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