Squints

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.

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 childs future career and sports. A squint may also affect the appearance and self-confidence of your child. Hence it is sometimes desirable to operate on the childs squint at an early age. Last, but not least, an eye with a squint may have other conditions which need treatment.

For all these reasons, any infant or child with a squint should be examined by an eye specialist.

What causes 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 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 time as young children are often uncooperative and may need to be sedated. 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 anaesthesia to allow an accurate examination.

Treatment often involves spectacles to correct any refractive errors. This may cure some types of squint, but to be effective the spectacles must be worn most of the time. As children often resist, the responsibility falls to 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 to allow the child to use both eyes together, done usually by surgery.

How does squint surgery work

Squint surgery is an operation on the muscles that move the eye. The eye is straightened by tightening or loosening of these muscles. Sometimes both eyes need to be operated upon but this provides hardly any risk to the eye.

Will the operation be successful

Almost operations will show an improvement in their appearance. Some will be able to use both eyes together and improve their judgement 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.

What are the risks of surgery

This is a minor operation. As such, life-threatening or blinding complications are very rare. Children will be put to sleep under general anaesthesia, but this is very safe if your child is healthy. Sometimes double vision may occur after the operation, but this usually recovers without treatment after a few months.

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