Squint, known medically as strabismus, occurs when instead of moving in tandem, each of the eyes points in a different direction. While one is focused in the correct direction toward an object, the other may move up or down or turn in or out instead.
This is pretty common, occurring in about one out of every 20 children. While it normally affects children under the age of 5, squint can also occur in adults. Overall, about 4% of the U.S. population, or about 13 million people, are impacted.
There are a variety of approaches that can be used to tackle a squint issue. These include:
- Getting glasses or contact lenses: If an issue with refraction—such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism—is at the root of the squint, then correcting this can help to solve the problem.
- Performing eye exercises: These may help to strengthen the muscles to allow for better control of eye movements.
- Patching the eye: If a patient also has lazy eye, treating this with a patch can improve vision and may have the added benefit of also improving eye alignment.
- Getting eye muscle injections: This can temporarily help to weaken some eye muscles, thereby allowing them to better align.
- Eye muscle surgery: Tightening or loosening eye muscles can improve the relative alignment of the eyes.
While it may be tempting to simply wait and see what happens with a squint, it’s important for a variety of reasons to seek treatment. Ignoring an emerging squint can lead to issues such as:
- Amblyopia, otherwise known as a lazy eye, can develop when the brain begins to ignore signals from the eye that is misaligned and normal eyesight with depth perception does not develop.
- Intermittent issues such as blurred or double vision can become persistent.
- It can begin to have a real impact on self-esteem.