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What is Strabismus?

A squint, also called strabismus, is where the eyes point in different directions. It’s particularly common in young children, but can occur at any age. One of the eyes may turn in, out, up or down while the other eye looks ahead. This may happen all the time or it may come and go.

Normally, the brain receives two identical images (one from each eye) and sees them as a single image. When the two eyes are not aligned, two different images arrive at the brain and only the sharpest centred image is seen.

Treatment is usually recommended to correct a squint, as it’s unlikely to get better on its own and it could cause further problems if not treated early on as the child may lose visual acuity on their so-called “lazy” eye.

Types of strabismus:

  • Divergent strabismus: the eye turns outwards
  • Convergent strabismus: the eye turns inwards
  • Vertical strabismus: the eye turns lower

For children with strabismus, the ultimate goal is to prevent deterioration of vision. Treatment may include wearing glasses, wearing an eye patch, wearing a partial occlusion or Ryser, placed on the inside of the spectacle lens.

How to spot strabismus in children

In babies younger than 3 months, squints that come and go are common and are not usually a cause for concern. If you notice a squint in a baby from 3 months you should quickly seek advice from an Optician.

It’s important not to ignore a squint that happens all the time or occurs after 3 months of age. It could lead to further problems if left untreated, such as:

  • Persistent blurred or double vision
  • A lazy eye – where the brain starts to ignore signals coming from the affected eye, so your child does not develop normal eyesight
  • Embarrassment or low self-esteem
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