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Squints (Strabismus)

What is a squint?

A squint occurs when an eye misaligns compared to the fellow eye. The eye may turn inward toward the nose, outwards or even up or down.

In many cases an inward turn is caused by long-sightedness (hypermetropia) which puts a strain on the eyes in order to see. The effort of this straining to see without spectacles is what causes the eye to turn in. In other cases there may be no obvious cause though there is normally a family history of squints in the family. Squints in children are a serious condition and if left untreated can cause a lazy eye (amblyopia) to form, meaning the squinting eye will never develop the same level of vision as it’s fellow eye.


Squints do not resolve fully on their own, though some may become less apparent with time. Some squints will straighten fully with spectacles while others will require referral for surgery. Most squints will require some patching of the non-squinting eye which helps promote better vision through the squinting eye and through glasses if necessary. As there are many different causes and types of squint the range of suitable treatments varies, some being more suitable for certain squints than others. No two squints are alike.

In order to achieve the best results from treatment it should be begun long before a child is seven years old, which is why we start seeing children from 3 months (the age at which the eyes start co-ordinating).  Treatment time varies based on how vision responds, something which is unknown at the commencement of treatment. This is why the earlier a squint can be detected the more time there is for treatment.