The medical name for squint is strabismus. It is a condition where the eyes do not look in the same direction. Most squints occur in young children. A child with a squint may stop using the affected eye to see with. This can lead to visual loss called amblyopia or “lazy eye”, which can become permanent unless treated early in childhood.
Squints are caused by the muscles that control eye movement and they develop when the eye muscles do not work in a balanced way causing the eyes to no longer move together. In most cases the cause of squints is unknown, although they can be caused by a disorder of the eye, eye muscles, the brain or nerves.
Squints are not always readily visible depending on severity. A person with squints or lazy eye may experience blurred vision, double vision, or poor depth perception.
Squints can be treated surgically or non-surgically. For information on treatment of squints, click here.
Strabismus (Squint) Treatment
Strabismus can be treated surgically or non-surgically. This condition is ideally treated as early as possible (particularly in children) so that it does not progress to require extensive corrections. There are a number of non-surgical treatments for strabismus, all of which put the weaker eye to use in order to strengthen it. These treatments include:
- Eyeglasses or contact lenses, which can be used to help people who have crossed eyes due to an uncorrected farsightedness.
- Botox, which can be used to relax the contracted muscles in the eyes, making it easier for the eyes to focus where they need to.
- Patching or covering the stronger eye, to strengthen the weakened eye.
In order to surgically correct strabismus, the surgeon shortens or lengthens the muscles that control the eye. First, a small incision into the eye is made in order to reach the muscle that requires strengthening or weakening.
To strengthen or shorten a muscle, a small section from one end of the muscle is removed and the two ends are reattached at the same location. To weaken or add length to a muscle, a partial cut is usually made across the muscle, allowing the eye to turn further than was previously allowed.
In adults, this surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic and the patient can often go home on the same day. Occasionally the patient may experience double vision after surgery as the brain adjusts to the new way of seeing, but this should correct itself over the following weeks.