Squint is a misalignment of the eyes when they do not look together in the same direction. Squint can be constant (present at all the time) or intermittent (present occasionally when the child is tired or unwell). Squint can be seen at any age from few weeks after birth to old age.
What are types of squint?
The eyes can be turned inwards (esotropia) or outwards (exotropia) or upwards (hypertropia).
Why does squint occur?
Squint occurs due to number of reasons.
- Poor development or damage to the brain area controlling eye movements.
- Poor vision in one eye which can prevent the brain from keeping the eye straight.
- Damage to the nerves controlling the muscles of the eyes.
What are the effects (problems) caused by squint?
- Amblyopia (lazy eye). A constant squint in one eye leads to progressive decrease in vision in that eye as that eye is not being used for seeing.
- Loss of binocular vision. A child with squint cannot appreciate depth or stereovision as it requires both eyes to be aligned with each other.
- Abnormal head posture. Some children adopt an abnormal head posture like turning face to one side or tilting the head to one side in order to keep both the eyes aligned together.
- Cosmetic problems or loss of self esteem. A child with squint is always low in self confidence as it is a cause of embarrassment among other children
What is the treatment for squint?
It is always a step wise approach involving:
- Correcting refractive errors like hypermetropia, myopia or astigmatism by spectacles.
- Correcting amblyopia( lazy eye) by patching the good eye for a few hours every day so as to equalize the vision in both eyes.
- Squint surgery which involves operating on the eye muscles so as to align both eyes in all directions.
What is the ideal time of surgery?
In children, for best results, surgery is usually performed between 6 months to 4 years of age. In adults surgery can be performed at any convenient time.
Myths & Facts about squints
Myth: Children born with squint are considered to be lucky.
Fact: Children born with squint are in fact unlucky because they do not develop binocular vision (ability to see with both eyes) and need to be treated early.
Myth: There is no treatment available for squint.
Fact: Almost all types of squint can be corrected- either with glasses or by surgery..
- Myth: Children will outgrow squint.
Fact: A child with a true squint will never outgrow it.
- Myth: Squint surgery should be performed only when the child grows older.
Fact: Squint correction surgery should be performed as soon as early as possible because better are the chances for the eyes to align themselves and allow the brain to develop binocular vision.
- Myth: Child will not require to wear spectacles after surgery.
Fact: Child will need to wear spectacles even after surgery as squint surgery only straightens the eyes but does not correct poor vision due to refractive errors.