Strabismus (Squint)

Disease

When both the eyes are trying to focus on one object, one of them fails to do. This condition is called Strabismus or Squint.

In some cases of strabismus the eyeballs appear to be looking outwardly or inwardly and in some others, they seem to be looking upwardly or downwardly.

About 4% of the population suffers from strabismus or squint.

Having squint can affect the child's vision. You must note that besides being a medical abnormality, having squint can also potentially affect the child psychologically.

Treatment of squint is possible, and can be quite effective and safe.

Causes

Children can either be born with strabismus or can develop it later in childhood. Also, it can run in families.

Another reason as to why strabismus is caused is when there is a problem with the muscles that move the eyes.

Following are symptoms of strabismus -

1. Eyes Turning Unusually

2. Crossed Eyes

3. Deviating Eyes

4. Wall-Eyes

5. Wandering Eyes

Diagnosis

Getting strabismus detected at an early age is extremely vital. If someone in your family has had strabismus, you must take your child to the doctor for a diagnosis.

It is usually diagnosed between the ages of 1 and 4. Strabismus very rarely develops after the age of 6. In case it does, the child will have to get his/her eyes checked right away.


Sometimes what appears to be squint may in fact be a Pseudo-Squint or an asymmetry of facial features. Therefore, if your child is experiencing symptoms of squint, get his/her eyes checked by an ophthalmologist to diagnose what exactly is the problem.

If squints are not diagnosed and treated on time, it can lead to a condition called Amblyopia or Lazy Eye, which can cause permanent damage to your child's vision. This eye condition requires medical attention for vision correction and recovery.

With the right diagnosis, you can begin treatment early and correct the problem.

Treatment

Treatment can begin as early as before the child turns one and is considered to be medically safe. It is also considered to be manageable and effective.

Treatment for squint often includes wearing prescription glasses or doing a regular set of eye exercises. Following are various treatment options that your doctor will prescribe for your child -

1. Prescription Glasses - These glasses are used to correct vision disorders.

2. Occlusion - This is a treatment procedure used to patch up the 'good eye' to activate the weaker eye. This procedure is normally performed under the supervision of an orthoptist.

Surgery

If surgery is required to treat your child's squint, you needn't worry because getting it done is quite safe and can be an extremely effective method of treatment.

Takeaway

Strabismus normally occurs either during the child's birth or later in childhood; but having said that it can also develop at any age. It is advisable to take your child for a routine ophthalmic care screening when he/she turns 6 months and then once a year till the age of 5.