Strabismus – Squinting of Eyes

Squint, which is also called strabismus, is an eye condition wherein the eyes do not look in the same direction as each other. This means that while one eye looks forward to focus on an object, the other eye turns either inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards. The eyes do not work together as a pair all the time.

Mostly squints occur at a young age but sometimes they can develop in adults as well however the reasons would be different. One can notice a squint when a child is tired or focuses on a smaller object, although for some children it is noticeable even when they are not directly focusing on something.

What are the risk factors for squint?

Given below are a few risk factors that can increase the chances of a child developing a squint:

Family history

There are a few types of squints that run in the families which means if a parent has had a squint or needed glasses from an early age, there may be an increased chance that their child may also be affected.

Prematurity or low birth weight

Babies born before 32 weeks or born underweight are at a higher risk of developing a squint.

Other conditions

Children with conditions such as Down's syndrome and cerebral palsy may also be more prone to developing a squint.

How can a squint affect vision?

If a child has a squint then each of his eye is looking in a different direction and transmitting two different pictures to the brain. The brain may find it difficult to merge the two pictures to form a clear picture since they are so different.

This situation generally in an adult would cause double vision. However, as a child's visual system is still developing the brain can easily adapt to stop this double vision by ignoring the image coming from the eye with the squint. This "switching off" of the vision by the brain from the squinting eye is called "suppression" and it may cause the vision in that eye to become poor because it is not being used.

Children can easily adapt to using one eye and it may not be obvious from their reaction that they have an issue with their vision. In order to detect any such hidden issues, it is highly recommended to get their eyes tested by an eye doctor.

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