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Many people think that squint is a permanent condition and cannot be corrected. But the truth is that eyes can be straightened at any age.
Commonly known as “Strabismus”, where the eyes are not aligned in the same direction, this can be present only part of the time, in one or alternating between two eyes. The squinting may turn in (converge), turn out (diverge) or sometimes turn up or down.
What about Childhood Squint?
If the squint is suspected, then it is necessary to evaluate the baby at the earliest. Sometimes a “Pseudo Squint” may be present due to a wide gap between the eyes, flat nose bridge where the eyes do appear misaligned but do not actually have the squint. The causes are:
- Congenital Squint- These children are born with a squint though it may not be obvious for few weeks. A strong family history could be present. In all children, the vision and need for spectacles have to be assessed.
- Long Sightedness or Hypermetropia- As the child cannot focus well, he has to put extra effort to focus, which can cause a double vision. To avoid this, the image in one eye is suppressed unconsciously and in turn, the child avoids using that eye. If left untreated not only does the eye deviate but also becomes a lazy Eye (Amblyopia).
- Childhood illnesses- Squint may also develop because of viral fever, measles, meningitis etc
- Injury to the nerves
Is it only a Cosmetic Problem?
Not always. It can be associated with decreased vision or diplopia (double vision). Loss of binocular vision (ability to use the Eyes together) can lead to loss of fine stereopsis (depth perception) and peripheral visual field.
What is the treatment for Childhood Squint, will he need to wear Spectacles or undergo Surgery?
The child is thoroughly assessed to know the type of squint as it is very important to note the vision and fixation pattern in both eyes. The spectacle power and degree of squint will be examined till he grows up. Any residual squint that may not be corrected by spectacle can be corrected by surgery. Few eye diseases like: Amblyopia / Lazy Eye- This is treated by Patching/Occluding the good eye. The weaker eye is encouraged to work harder with visual activities such as colouring and reading while a patch is on.