What is a Squint?
A Squint, or strabismus is a medical condition in which the eyes do not align properly. They do not look in the same direction at the same time. The disorder occurs due to poor eye muscle control. Other reasons are, improper balance of eye muscles, faulty nerve signals to the eye muscles, and focusing faults (usually long sight). Due to these complications, eyeballs may converge or diverge, thus obstructing proper functioning of the eye. The disorder can affect at any age (adult or baby). A child may be born with a squint or develop the condition right after birth. In case, the child develops the condition 6-7 weeks after birth, it is necessary to consult a doctor (eye specialist) and get them tested. Children with squints may also have poor vision in the affected eye. The sooner the treatment and care starts, the better the results.
Common Symptoms That Require Attention
Symptoms of squint are often difficult to detect. People often mistake unusual look of the eyes as squint. Children may often complain about vision problems. In case the problem is squint, a specialist should be consulted. The common symptoms could include:
- Eyes that look at different directions at the same time
- Eyes that don’t move together
- Squinting or closing one eye in bright sunlight
- Poor peripheral vision
- Poor depth perception
What Causes Squint Eye?
Squint eye is caused due to nerve damage or problems in the eye muscles. When some muscles around the eye are weaker than others, they are unable to work together. As a result, one eye looks at one object, while the other eye turns in a different direction and looks at another object. The brain receives two different signals, one from each eye, and the message from the weaker eye is ignored. While a squint eye is usually present at birth, it can even develop later in life due to general health conditions or eye injuries.
What are the different types of Squints?
Squints can be differentiated in terms of the direction in which the eye turns. Here are the 4 different kinds of squints –
- Esotropia – When the eye is turned towards the nose, it is referred to as an esotropia.
- Exotropia – When the eye turns outwards, it is called an exotropia.
- Hypertropia – When the eye is turned upwards, it is called hypertropia.
- Hypotropia – When the eye turns downwards, it is called hypotropia.
Squint Eye Treatment
With proper treatment, the risks of other eye complications such as amblyopia and lazy eye, that come from squint eyes, can be reduced. Treatments for squint eyes include:
- Glasses: In cases where underlying problems with vision are the cause of squint eye, glasses are your best option.
- Eye-patch: An eye patch is often used to correct a squint eye. Wearing it on the good eye can help ensure that the squint eye works better.
- Eye Exercises: Although exercises should not be considered as a substitute for medical treatment, there are many exercises that are often part of a squint eye correction treatment. Two common eye exercises include Pencil Pushups and Barrel Card.
- Pencil Pushups: Pencil pus ups are simple ocular workouts that make both the eyes focus on the same point. Hold a pencil at arm’s length and focus your gaze on it. Slowly move the pencil towards you, without losing focus as long as you can.
- Barrel Card: Draw three red barrels of progressive size on one side of a card. Do the same thing in green on the other side. Hold the card vertically against your nose, so that the largest barrel is the furthest away. Stare at the far barrel until it becomes a single image with both the colours and the other two barrel images have doubled. Maintain your focus for about five seconds. Then repeat with the middle and the smallest barrel images.
- Surgery: When none of the above treatment methods work, surgery is the last resort. A squint eye surgery can realign the eyes and restore binocular vision.