Squint (also known as strabismus) is a condition that arises because of an incorrect balance of the muscles that move the eye, faulty nerve signals to the eye muscles and focusing faults (usually long sight). If these are out of balance, the eye may turn in (converge), turn out (diverge) or sometimes turn up or down, preventing the eyes from working properly together.
Squint can occur at any age. A baby can be born with a squint or develop one soon after birth. Around five to eight per cent of children are affected by a squint or a squint-related condition, which means one or two in every group of 30 children.
Treating squint varies accordingly to the type of squint. An operation is not always needed. The main forms of treatment are:
Glasses – to correct any sight problems, especially long-sight.
Occlusion – patching the good eye to encourage the weaker eye to be used. This is usually done under the supervision of an orthoptist.
Eye drops – certain types of squint can be treated with the use of special eye drops.
Surgery – this is used with congenital squints, together with other forms of treatment in older children, if needed. Surgery can be performed as early as a few months of age.