Squint information sheet

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What is a squint?
A squint is a condition in which the eyes point in different directions. One eye will be straight but the other eye will be pointing in a different direction (inwards, outwards, up or down). As a result, the eyes may find it difficult to work together as a pair. Squints can vary in size. Some are cosmetically obvious but some are very small and can only be detected on careful testing. Squints can also vary in frequency. Many are present constantly but some may be intermittent. Approximately 2-4% of children have a squint.

What causes a squint?
There are many different causes of squints. Some squints come from being long sighted and therefore refraction (a check for glasses by an Optometrist) is always part of our assessment when we suspect the presence of a squint. Children with a strong family history of squint or early glasses wear (parents or siblings) are at increased risk of developing a squint.

How does a squint affect my child?
Children with a constant squint of any size may have reduced vision in their affected eye as a result. This is called amblyopia and may require treatment with glasses or a patch. Amblyopia treatment is usually only successful if carried out before the eyes have finished developing. This occurs at around 7-8 years of age.

What treatment may my child need in the future?
• Glasses may be required to improve vision and/or the cosmetic appearance of the squint.
• Patching treatment may be required to treat amblyopia. This will improve vision but does not affect the size of the squint.
• Surgery may be considered by the Consultant Ophthalmologist if the squint is cosmetically poor, despite appropriate glasses being worn. Squint surgery will reduce the size of the squint but will not change the vision. There are many different types of squint and the appropriate treatment can vary between patients. The Orthoptist will explain what is needed in each case.

Who will be involved in the treatment of my child’s eyes?
The following clinicians may be involved in your child’s care:
1. Orthoptist
The Orthoptist specialises in assessing how well your child can see and how well their eyes work together. They will take measurements to determine the type and size of the squint.
2. Optometry
Optometrists (Opticians) carry out refraction tests to determine if glasses are required. They also check the health of the back of the eyes (retina examination). These tests may require the use of
dilating eye drops.
3. Consultant Ophthalmologist
The Ophthalmologist is the doctor who will operate if they consider that squint surgery is appropriate in your child’s case. Parents and carers are always involved in this decision.