The medical name for a squint is strabismus. It is a condition of the eye where the two eyes do not focus in the same direction. Whilst one eye may be looking forward to focus on an object, the other eye would be looking in another direction. Squints commonly occur in young children and if uncorrected the affected eye may not be used to see with.
If, as the result of squint, a preschool child cannot use one eye normally, then the visual system will not develop to fully functioning adult levels. Untreated a squint will result in reduced vision known as amblyopia.
Amblyopia will develop in addition to whatever other vision error, short sight; long sight or astigmatism is affecting the eye. Amblyopia is a brain developmental rather than an ocular problem. Even if the refractive error short/long sight is corrected, the reduction from amblyopia will remains permanent unless it is treated before the child reaches 7/8 years of age.
It is strongly recommended that all children have an eye examination by the age of 3 so that any signs of amblyopia can be detected and treated.
What are the treatments for squint?
Treatment for strabismus can include one or all of the following:
Treating amblyopia. The main treatment for this eye problem is to restrict the use of the eye with good vision. This will force the eye affected with amblyopia to work and develop normal visual pathway connections with the brain. If this treatment is undertaken (usually in the form of periods of patching the eye with good vision) early enough in childhood, the vision will usually develop to a normal level.
If a child has a short or long sight visual error then spectacles will be prescribed. These correct vision in the eye and may straighten the squinting eye, if the vision error is a causative factor of the squint
Surgery may be needed to make the eyes as straight as possible. This will help improve or restore binocular vision (so both eyes are working together) and also the appearance.
If you are concerned about your child’s vision or think their eyes may show signs of a squint please contact us to arrange an appointment for further investigation at the earliest opportunity.