A squint is when one eye turns inwards, outwards or upwards, while the other eye looks straight ahead. It often starts in childhood, sometimes within weeks of being born.
Signs and symptoms of a strabismus include:
- An eye that wanders inward or outward
- Eyes that appear to not work together
- Poor depth perception
- Difficulty viewing things in 3D
- Head tilting
- Potential double vision
In prominent squints, it can be obvious that one eye does not look straight. Small squints might not be noticeable to other people. Some people with a squint will look at things with one eye closed, or turn their head to one side.
There are different types of squint and the cause is not always known, although it can run in the family or can be caused during childbirth. Squints can occur due to muscle or nerve problems, or because the eye has something else wrong which affects vision.
Different Types of Strabismus
- Convergent Squint (Esotropia) – the affected eye looks inwards
- Divergent Squint (Exoptropia) – the affected eye looks outwards
- Vertical Squint (Hyper/Hypotropia) – the eye looks up or down (this type is less common)
The squint may be present all of the time or appear intermittently such as when you are tired or concentrating.
Is it common?
Strabismus affects 5-8% of children (~1 in every 30).
How is a strabismus diagnosed?
Tests are usually carried out by an orthoptist who is trained to identify conditions such as strabismus. The orthoptist may shine a light in your eyes to see if the reflection of the light is in the same place in both eyes or not. They also cover each eye in turn to see if one eye has to straighten to see things.
People with a squint should see an eye professional as soon as possible after it is detected, especially young children where the sight in the affected eye may gradually get worse.
A complication that can develop if a squint is left untreated is amblyopia (lazy eye). This happens when vision in the eye with a squint gradually gets worse because the brain starts to ignore the weaker message being sent from that eye. Some squints can improve with age and not all require treatment.
There are several treatment types available:
- Corrective eyewear. Glasses may be required
- Eye patches. To stimulate the turned eye, your child may wear an eye patch over the stronger eye. The patch is generally worn for two to six hours a day.
- Eye exercises. Some squints can be treated with ocular exercises
- Surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgical repair for the eye muscles if required.
If you have any concerns about your own or your child’s eyes or suspect they may have a strabismus – Please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic on 021 4341030 or firstname.lastname@example.org