Squinting eye (strabismus) - What is it and how do I treat it?

Squinting eye (strabismus) – What is it and how do I treat it?

small girl with squinting eye

What is squinting eye?

When you have squinting eyes, one eye looks straight while the other eye seems to turn away from the straight position. Your squinting eye can either turn inwards (a convergent squint) or outwards (a divergent squint). Moreover, a squint can also be vertical with one gaze positioned at a higher position than the other.

What causes squinting eyes?

Squinting eye can happen to adults and children. Strabismus is caused when your brain’s coordination of your eyes is disordered. Another cause of this condition happens when one or more of the muscles controlling your eye, or the bony-orbit around the eye, is disordered. You might also suffer from squinted eyes when the vision in one eye is poor (owing to an eye condition). Children can suffer from strabismus too and thus parents should take their children for an eye examination regularly, but especially when they have a squint.

What are the symptoms of squinting eyes?

Eyes that do not seem to be coordinating well together might indicate strabismus. Another common sign happens when the sufferer of strabismus tilts the head or turns the face to maintain the alignment of both eyes. If your eyes are not coordinating well, you could be suffering from strabismus.

Also, some Asian babies seem to have a convergent squint especially with their flat nose bridges and folds of skin shielding the inner part of the eyes. These babies should be sent for a medical examination to check for a true squint.  A pseudo-squint does not warrant any treatment.

squinting eye

How can to be prevented?

The root cause of strabismus for the majority of cases in children is unknown. Usually, this problem occurs at birth or develops soon after birth. While strabismus cannot be prevented, it can be addressed with early intervention.

How is treated?

Strabismus can be addressed via early intervention. Treatment includes the following:

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Prism lenses-These prism lenses are thicker on one side than the other. The prisms adjust the amount of light entering your eye and decrease the amount of turning your eye must do to see. Sometimes the prisms can get rid of the eye turning altogether.
  • Vision therapy-Your doctor might recommend a structured programme of visual activities to enhance eye-brain coordination and focusing. Such eye exercises can reduce problems with eye movement, eye focusing and eye teaming. Treatment can take place at home or at your doctor’s office.
  • Eye muscle surgery- Sometimes, surgery is needed to alter the length or position of the muscles around your eyes so they appear straight. If you need eye muscle surgery, you might also need vision therapy to enhance eye coordination and to prevent your eyes from becoming misaligned once more.

Eye surgery might be a treatment option for strabismus.

What are some problems with untreated squinting eyes?

If left untreated, strabismus can lead to other problems such as:

  • Chronic blurry or double vision
  • Lazy eye (especially when your brain ignores signals from the affected eye, affecting your overall vision)

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to check for strabismus and other eye conditions.

References

Singhealth.com.sg. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.singhealth.com.sg/patient-care/patient-education/strabismus-(squint)> [Accessed 30 November 2021].

Aoa.org. 2021. Strabismus (crossed eyes). [online] Available at: <https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/strabismus?sso=y#:~:text=Treatment%20for%20strabismus%20may%20include,be%20corrected%20with%20excellent%20results.> [Accessed 30 November 2021].

nhs.uk. 2021. Squint. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/squint/> [Accessed 30 November 2021].

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