Ophthalmologists in Melbourne can sometimes come across a condition known as squint (or strabismus), where patients may find their eyes turning in (converging), turning out (diverging), or sometimes turning upwards or downwards, causing the eyes to not work together appropriately. Squint is commonly caused by incorrect muscle balance controlling eye movement, faulty nerve signals to the eye muscles or focusing faults (typically long sight-based issues).
Squint occurs to patients of any age, with babies potentially born with the condition or developing it soon after birth. Close to eight percent of children suffer from some form of squint-related condition. If you are concerned your child might be suffering from squint, fast action is required, with immediate treatment leading to better results.
Types of squint
While squints result in eye misalignment, there can be several variations of the condition, with the causes not always known. Among the possibilities including:
A congenital squint occurs when a child is born with the condition, even though it may not be apparent for several weeks. In these instances, there can be an even chance that there is some form of family history with the condition, most usually caused by a faulty with the eye muscles. If the squint is suspected, it is integral to have the baby appropriately assessed as soon as possible. While sometimes babies can suffer from a pseudo-squint (based on the shape of the face), a real squint needs to be managed as soon as possible.
Children that suffer from long-sightedness can occasionally develop a squint due to their eyes over-focusing. Instead of causing double vision, the brain forces one eye to stop focusing and turn away. This squint can most commonly result in a lazy eye (amblyopia), and is most commonly occurs between ten months and two years but is still quite frequent in children as old as five.
It is also possible for children to develop squint after suffering from diseases such as chickenpox or measles. If this is the case, it may mean that there was a prior tendency to squint, but the child had been able to keep their eye straight before the illness.
How to tell if a child suffers from squint?
While parents might often think they can identify a squint in their child, this is not necessarily the case. The specific symptoms of squint are often quite challenging to detect, especially with younger children. Despite this, it is slightly easier with older children, who may complain of eyesight issues, including double vision.
If you suspect your child suffers from a squint, speak to a healthcare professional (including local GP or school nurse) about a referral to a skilled ophthalmologist in Melbourne.
What can be done about squint?
Depending on the type of squint the child is suffering from, treatment options vary, with operations not always required. The main forms of treatment for squint include:
- Glasses aimed at correcting any sight problems, especially long-sightedness
- Occlusion involves the patching of the good eye to encourage the weaker eye to be used. This treatment must be conducted under the supervision of an appropriate orthoptist.
- Eye drops can be used to treat certain types of squint
- Surgery is the best option for congenital squints or as a last resort for older children. The operation can be performed on children as early as a few months of age, so correct identification is crucial.
If you are looking for a skilled Ophthalmologist in Melbourne to help diagnose a suspected squint, our friendly team would love a chat.