Jul
30 2018

Eyes Squints 101: Types, Causes, Treatments and More

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Know more about the condition known as squints. Read about its probable causes, what happens if you leave it untreated, and treatment options to managing one’s condition

This cross-eyed or cock-eyed phenomenon is medically coined as strabismus, or simply squints. It is a condition that can happen intermittently or permanently. When someone is experiencing squinting, the different muscles in the eyes that are responsible for eye movement and eyelid elevation don't work together, thus, resulting to the eyes being unable to look at the same spot at the same time. When one eye tries to focus on one thing, the other eye looks inwards, outwards, upwards, or downwards.

Strabismus can be classified into different types:

  1. Direction of the squinting eye
    • Esotropia (inward)
    • Exotropia (outward)
    • Hypertropia (upward)
    • Hypotropia (downward)
  2. Frequency
    • Constant (all the time)
    • Intermittent (come and goes)
  3. Eye behaviour
    • Manifest (affected eye turns when eyes are used)
    • Latent (affected eye turns when eyes are shut)
  4. Severity
    • Comitant (angle/degree of squint is the same every time)
    • Incomitant (angle/degree of squint varies)
  5. On-set
    • First few years of life
    • As an adult

What causes strabismus?

Strabismus can be a result of any of the following reasons:

  1. Congenital or the child is born with it
  2. Family history of squinting
  3. Lesion on a cranial nerve
  4. Result of a refractive error or vision problem such as myopia, hypermetropia, or astigmatism
  5. Other medical conditions such as hydrocephalus, Noonan syndrome, Down's syndrome, retinoblastoma, brain injury, and tumour

What happens if you leave strabismus unmanaged?

There are a few vision problems that can result from untreated squinting. Read further to know more.

  1. Amblyopia: Simply called as "lazy eye", it is a condition characterised by blurred, reduced, and weak vision. Vision loss resulting from amblyopia cannot be corrected even with prescription glasses after the age of 8 years old.
  2. Impaired Binocular Vision: When two eyes work together and focus on the same spot, this is called binocular vision. The eyes and the brain function together when the eyes sending signals to the brain in order to form a three-dimensional image. When one has a squint, both eyes look at separate spots and only the signals from the dominant focusing eye are detected, while the other is ignored. Vision is only effective in one eye but that does not mean that the other is blind. It just means that there is not a good sense of depth when looking at objects.

How is strabismus diagnosed?

Since it often develops at an early age, it is highly encouraged that parents have their newborn baby's vision checked by a doctor as soon as possible. Babies and children who are diagnosed with squint are advised to undergo various tests. A full binocular vision workout is recommended should one suspected with strabismus. In children, early detection will lead to early prognosis with treatment done.

How can strabismus be managed?

There are several ways on how squints can be treated. The best way to go about managing one's condition depends on the type of squint experienced by the patient.

  1. Prescribed Glasses: Especially for children, this is usually the first attempt in dealing with squint. This will help the child see clearer using both eyes and will help to relieve symptoms of squint.
  2. Occlusions: This is done if the child is suspected with lazy eye. Done with the supervision of an optometrist, this involves covering the better eye using a patch. This gives the weaker eye a chance to catch up by requiring it to see, which then builds up the pathway between this eye and the brain. Sometimes it is also use for adults to eliminate the double vision that the person is seeing.
  3. Surgery: Some cases, Surgery on the eye muscle is required in order to straighten the squint.
  4. Botulinum toxin injection: Simply known as botox, it is injected into a muscle on the surface of the eye. This weakens the injected muscle and helps it align properly.

Eye squints are a serious condition that should not be ignored. It can result to further complications as one grows up and matures. Get you or your child's eyes checked by seeking proper medication as soon as you can. For eye squinting concern, contact I-Vision at +65 6802 4726 or visit us at 79 Serangoon Garden Way today.