A squint, also known as strabismus, occurs when a person’s eyes point in different directions. This is particularly common in young children, but it can affect anyone at any age.
Did you know?
A squint is usually obvious from an early age so can be caught by your GP or optometrist during a routine eye test, which is why it’s important to get your child’s eyes checked regularly.
What causes a squint?
The exact cause of a squint can’t always be determined. Some people are born with a squint, while others can develop a squint in later in life.
Rare causes of a squint include:
- Genetic conditions such as Down’s syndrome
- Developmental delays
- Cerebral palsy
- Other brain or nerve problems
Signs and symptoms of a squint
The sign of a squint is usually obvious from an early age as one of the eyes does not look straight ahead. Squints are usually present at birth or develop within the first six months of life.
If you have any concerns about your child’s eye health, the first step is to see your GP.
Treatment for squints
There are four common treatments for a squint:
Glasses can help a squint if it is caused by a problem with the child’s eyesight, such as myopia (short sight).
Eye exercises for muscle control can help the eyes work together.
Surgery might be an option in the event that glasses aren’t helping to resolve a squint. The surgery involves moving the muscles that control the eye so that it can line up as it should.
Injections into the eye muscle can also help in the short term by weakening the muscles so that the eye can align itself.
Some children may have a lazy eye as a result of the squint, which may need to be treated first.
Types of squint and diagnosis
There are several types of squints, based on which way the eye with the squint is looking.
- Exotropia – when the eye is directed outwards
- Esotropia – when the eye is directed inwards
- Hypertropia – when the eye is directed upwards
- Hypotropia – when the eye is directed downwards
- Cyclotropia – combination of the above
Lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, occurs when vision doesn’t develop properly. Whereas strabismus, or squint, refers to the condition in which eyes point in a different direction.
Strabismus does not go away on its own. If you have any concerns about your eye health or your child’s, you should visit your GP.
Yes, a squint is another term for strabismus.