What is a squint?
When looking at an object, a normal person has both eyes pointed straight at that object. If only one eye is looking straight and the other eye is turned away, then that person has a squint.
What Does A Squint Look Like?
A large squint is easy to spot. Your child may look cross-eyed, with the eye turned towards or away from the nose. Or you may mistakenly feel as thought your child is not looking at you because one eye is pointed away from you.
Sometimes squints are noticed because on a photograph, the reflection of the flash is not in the centre of both eyes. On the other hand, a small squint is hard to detect and only special testing by an eye specialist can pick up such squints. As even a very small squint can damage your child’s eyesight, all young children should have their eyesight tested regularly even though they appear normal.
How Does A Squint Affect My Child?
An eye with a squint may become unable to see clearly. This weak eye is called a lazy eye. Lazy eye can only be cured if detected and treated early. The earlier the treatment, the better the results.
A person with a squint can only use one eye at a time. A person with two good eyes will be able to judge distances and depth more accurately than one with a squint. This may affect the choice of your child’s future career and sports.
A squint affects the appearance and self-confidence of your child. Hence it is sometimes desirable to operate on the child’s squint at an early age.
Last, but not least, an eye with a squint may have other conditions which need treatment. For all reasons, any infant or child with a squint should be examined by an eye specialist.
What Is The Cause Of A Squint?
There are many causes. It may be due to a disorder of a part of the brain controlling eye movements or it may be caused by refractive errors (degree), focusing problem, and nerve injuries. Also any eye with poor sight tends to squint.
How Is A Squint Treated?
A child with a squint needs a full eye checkup. This may take some time as young children are often uncooperative. The child may need to be sedated. In a baby it is often helpful to time feeds so that the doctor can examine him during feeding. Even then it may still be necessary to come back another day to confirm the findings or even to put the child to sleep under general anesthesia to allow an accurate examination.
Treatment often involves spectacles to correct any refractive error. This may cure some types of squint but to be effective, the spectacles must be worn most of the time. Children often do not understand so it is the responsibility of the parents to make sure they wear their spectacles constantly.
Any lazy eye must be treated. The most effective method is to cover the good eye with a patch so that the child is forced to use the lazy eye. Adequate treatment of lazy eye improves the results of surgery.
Lastly, the eyes must be straightened to improve the appearance and allow the child to use both eyes together. This is usually done by surgery.
How Does Squint Surgery Work?
Squint surgery is an operation on the muscle that move the eye. The eye is straightened by tightening or loosening the muscle. Sometimes both eyes need to be operated upon but this acceptable as there is hardly any risk to the eye.
Will The Operation Be Successful?
Yes. Almost all will show an improvement in their appearance. Some will become able to use both eyes together and improve their judgment of depth and distances. The degree of success depends on factors such as the type and size of the squint and the presence of good vision in both eyes. In complicated cases, further operations may be necessary.
Does It Run In The Family?
Most people with squint do not have relatives affected with squints. However, since it occasionally runs in families, it is wise to check the rest of your children if a family member has a squint.
Squint is a common condition affecting young children that may affect their sight, appearance and confident if not detected and treated early. Every young child should have eyes checked regularly. The treatment of squint is safe and effective but needs the full cooperation of the parents.
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