Objective: To assess the psychosocial implications of growing up with and living with socially noticeable strabismus.
Design: Self-report mailed questionnaire and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist.
Setting: Patients with strabismus who were seen at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center, Department of Ophthalmology, from 1976 to 1989.
Participants: Forty-three female and male subjects aged 15 years or older who had a history of childhood strabismus that was uncorrected or incompletely corrected past the age of 13 years.
Main outcome measures: Participants' responses to our survey and to the Hopkins Symptom Checklist.
Results: Strabismus had a negative impact on many aspects of our subjects' lives. They report difficulty with self-image, securing employment, interpersonal relationships, school, work, and sports. Furthermore, difficulties encountered did not go away after childhood, rather, the problems encountered by our subjects intensified in the teenage and adult years. Subjects demonstrated generalized higher levels of distress on the Hopkins Symptom Checklist than age- and sex-matched controls (P < .01).
Conclusions: Psychosocial difficulties relating to socially noticeable strabismus are not just a problem for school-children but also for teenagers and adults. Correction of strabismus in the older teenager or adult may offer them improvement in psychosocial functioning, a benefit not previously reported in the literature.