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On Call: A Wandering Eye

Q. Two months ago, I noticed that my daughter's eyes looked a little crossed. She's now 9½ months old, and the right one is clearly out of sync with the left. What should I do?

A. Have your daughter's eyes checked right away by her pediatrician. It's not unusual for a baby's eyes to cross occasionally, but by 3 months she should be able to keep them straight.

Some babies (and even toddlers) who have flat or wide bridges of the nose can look like they have crossed eyes when they really don't. Having an eye that truly wanders is a condition called strabismus. If it's not treated, the brain starts to ignore input from that eye, and the "good" eye will do all the work. This is known as amblyopia. It happened to me  -- no one noticed the problem until I was in first grade, so to this day I have poorer vision in my right eye than in my left.

If your daughter does have strabismus, your pediatrician will likely refer you to an ophthalmologist. Treatments include eye patches, eyeglasses, eyedrops, and, in some cases, surgery. The earlier the problem is picked up on, the better. Thanks to your vigilance, the prognosis should be good.

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