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What is Squint?

Squint is a condition that occurs because of an incorrect balance of the eye muscles as a result of which faulty nerve signals are sent to the eye muscles. If the eye muscles are out of balance, the eye may turn in and turn out or in some conditions turn up and down, giving a squint condition to one’s eye.

Squint can occur at any age. Sometimes a baby can be born with a squint or develop it later. Approximately five to eight percent of children are affected by squint-related condition, which means one or two in every group of 30 children.

If you notice that your child has squint after they are six weeks old, do get their eyes tested and get the treatment started as soon as possible.

Listen to Dr. Himanshu Mehta speak about Squint and how technology at The Vission Eye Center can bring about complete, swift restoration of vision.

Types of Squints:

There are several types of squint. The causes of squint are not always known, but some children are more likely to develop it than others. Among the possible causes are:

Congenital squint

Sometimes a baby is born with a squint, although it may not be obvious for a few weeks. In about half of such cases, there is a family history of squint or the need for glasses. The eye muscles are usually at fault. If squint is suspected, it is important that the baby be referred for accurate assessment at the earliest opportunity. Sometimes a baby has what is known as ‘pseudo squint’ which is related to the shape of the face, but a baby with a true squint will not grow out of it.

Long-sight (hypermetropia)

Long-sightedness can sometimes lead to a squint developing as the eyes ‘over-focus’ in order to see clearly. In an attempt to avoid double vision, the brain may automatically respond by ‘switching off’ the image from one eye and turning the eye to avoid using it. If left untreated, a ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia) may result. The most common age for this type of squint to start is between 10 months and two years, but it can occur up to the age of five years. It is usually first noticed when a baby is looking at a toy, or at a later age when a child is concentrating on close work, such as a jigsaw or reading.

Childhood illnesses

Squint may develop following an illness such as measles or chickenpox. This may mean that a tendency to squint has been present but, prior to the illness, the child was able to keep his or her eye straight.

Nerve damage

In some cases a difficult delivery of a baby or illness damaging a nerve can lead to a squint.

Signs & Symptoms

People often think that they can tell if a child has a squint if the eyes look unusual or the two eyes look different. This is not necessarily a squint. Symptoms of squint are often difficult to detect, especially in younger children. Older children may complain of eyesight problems such as double vision. If it is suspected that a child has a squint, you must consult an ophthalmologist at the earliest.

Causes
  • Heredity
  • Weakness of the eye muscles or problem with the nerves in the eye muscles
  • Blurred or poor vision caused due to cataract, corneal scars, glaucoma, refractive errors, optic nerve disease, retinal disease, tumours of the eye etc.
  • Injuries
Diagnosis & Treatments

Children and babies should have routine eye checkups if they have squint. If there are signs of Strabismus, the physician or optician will refer the child to an ophthalmologist.

Treatment options include:
  • Glasses: If Hypermetropia or long-sightedness is causing the squint, glasses can usually correct it
  • Eye patch: Worn over the good eye, a patch can get the other eye, the one with the squint, to work better.
  • Botulinum toxin injection or Botox: This is injected into a muscle on the surface of the eye. The doctor may recommend this treatment if no underlying cause can be identified, and if signs and symptoms appear suddenly. Botox temporarily weakens the injected muscle, and can help align the eyes properly
  • Eye drops and eye exercises may help. Surgery is recommended only if other treatments prove ineffective. It can realign the eyes and restore binocular vision. The surgeon moves the muscle that connects to the eye to a new position. Sometimes both eyes need to be operated on to get the right balance.
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