Squint in children


A squint, also called strabismus in medical world, is when the eyes point in different directions. It’s common in young children, but can occur at any age.

One of the eyes may turn in, out, up or down while the other eye looks ahead.

This may happen all the time or it may be intermittent .

Treatment is recommended to correct a squint, as it’s unlikely to get better on its own and it could cause further problems if not treated early on.

When to get medical advice

Get advice if:

  • your child has a squint all the time
  • your child is older than 3 months and has a squint that is intermittent – in babies younger than this, squints that are intermittent are common and are not usually a cause for concern
  • you have any concerns about your child’s vision – signs of a problem can include regularly tilting their head to one side or keeping one eye closed when looking at things

Treatments and surgery for a squint

The main treatments for a squint are:

  • Glasses – these can help if a squint is caused by a problem in eyesight such as long sightedness
  • Eye exercises – exercises for the muscles that control eye movement may sometimes help
  • Surgery – this involves moving the muscles that control eye movement so the eyes line up correctly. It may be recommended if glasses are not fully effective on their own.

If your child has lazy eye also known as amblyopia ie, decreased vision even after correction by spectacles,as a result of their squint it may need to be treated first.

Lazy eye is treated usually by wearing a patch over the unaffected eye to help improve vision in the affected eye.

Problems that can occur if a squint is not treated

It’s important not to ignore a squint that happens all the time or occurs after 3 months of age.

It could lead to further problems if left untreated, such as:

  • persistent blurred or double vision
  • Amblyopia or lazy eye– where the brain starts to ignore signals coming from the affected eye, so your child does not develop normal eyesight
  • embarrassment or low self-esteem due to impaired cosmesis.

Surgery can help improve the alignment of the eyes even if a squint has been left untreated for a long time, but any vision problems may be permanent if they are not treated at a young age.

Causes of squints

The exact cause of a squint is not always known.

Some people are born with a squint and others develop one later in life. Sometimes they are hereditary.

In children, a squint is often caused by the eye attempting to overcome a vision problem, such as:

  • Short-sightedness– difficulty seeing things that are far away
  • Long-sightedness – difficulty seeing nearby objects
  • Astigmatism – where the front of the eye is unevenly curved, causing blurred vision

Rarer causes of a squint include

  • developmental delays
  • other problems with the brain or nerves

A squint can also sometimes be a symptom of a rare type of childhood eye cancer called retinoblastoma.

Therefore, lesser the delay in treating a squint, better the results.

Have a nice day.


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