What is Squint Eyes – Causes and Treatment
In some parts of India, especially among the rural and low socio-economic population, it is wrongly believed that having a squint eye is a sign of good luck. Unfortunately, it is due to such misconceptions that there is considerable hesitation in accessing good quality treatment. Squint eyes are a real health condition that requires as much seriousness, attention and awareness. It has been estimated that close to 4% to 6% are affected by this condition and out of these nearly 93% can be treated with effective treatment.
This article is an attempt to escalate awareness about squint eye treatment. With insights from Dr. Vijay Verma, a top ENT specialist in Gurgaon, we will explore the subject of squint.
What is a squint eye?
Squint eye, also medically known as strabismus, is a condition in which a person has misaligned eyes. It means that each eye points in different directions. Squint can cause one of your eyes to point downward, upward, or sideways while the other eye may point ahead.
Squint eye is an eye disorder that may remain persistently or come and go time and again. This condition most commonly affects children but may also be present in adults.
What are the types of squint eyes?
Squint eyes indicate a misalignment in the direction of the eyes with each one looking in different directions. Based on the direction they are looking in, squint eyes can be categorised into four types. These are:
- Hypertropia – when the eye turns upwards
- Hypotropia – when the eye turns downwards
- Esotropia – when the eye turns inwards
- Exotropia – when the eye turns outwards
What are the signs of squint eyes?
Squint eyes symptoms appear during early years and are usually obvious. Even a small squint, in its initial stages as well, can be noticed very easily.
However, sometimes, a cross eye happens only temporarily. Some newborns and infants may experience being cross eyed when they are tired.
Only an ENT specialist near you or your paediatrician would be able to identify and highlight the signs of squint eyes.
What are the causes of squint eyes?
Squint eyes causes can be varied. Some common ones include:
- Congenital reasons – congenital squint eyes means that a child is born with squint eyes.
- Hereditary reasons – in some cases, squint eyes can be caused as a result of genes.
- Illness – Squint eyes can further develop as a result of an eye related disorder or condition such as farsightedness.
- Refractive error – In this condition, the eye is unable to focus the light coming in through the lens.
Other known causes of squint eyes include:
- Myopia (a condition causing short-sightedness)
- Hypermetropia (a condition causing long-sightedness)
- Astigmatism (a condition in which the cornea is not curved properly)
Rare causes of squint eyes are:
- Certain genetic conditions or syndromes
- Developmental problems
- Cerebral palsy
- Problems with the brains and nerves
How is a squint eye diagnosed
While squint eyes are usually congenital, they may also develop later in life resulting from the above-given factors.
It is suggested that children and babies have routine eye check ups to identify any changes or possible risk of eye disorders.
Your ENT specialist or paediatrician will be able to check any signs of squint eyes and may order further testing to confirm the diagnosis for a well-rounded treatment.
Strabismus is usually detected with the help of the Hirschberg test. For this test, your doctor first uses eye drops to dilate the pupils. Followed by this, he/she shines a light in the eye and observes where the light reflects from the corneas in order to assess the condition.
If the light goes directly at the centre of the eyes, then the patient does not have any misalignment. However, if the light reflects away from the centre, then the patient is diagnosed with squint eyes.
Squint Eyes Treatment
Squint eye treatment is based on the findings of the investigations. Your ENT doctor will utilize one or more of the following methods to help treat the condition.
Squint eye treatment protocols include:
- Glasses – Applying glasses can help correct long-sightedness that may be causing squinted eyes.
- Eye patch – Your doctor may suggest applying an eye patch to the affected eye. This can help the squint eye work better.
- Eye drops – Your ENT specialist may prescribe certain eye drops to help treat strabismus.
- Eye exercises – You will be guided on how to perform certain eye exercises that deem beneficial in the long run for the treatment of squint eyes.
- Injections – There are certain injections that can help weaken the eye muscles and then line them up better. However, the effects of these injections may not be permanent.
- Surgery – Surgery is often considered the last line of treatment for squint eyes. It can be used to help realign the eyes and even restore binocular vision. Sometimes, you may require surgery on both eyes to help maintain balance.
Home based pencil pushups (HBPP)
ENT specialists all across the globe recommend doing the home-based pencil pushups for squint eye treatment. It is a standard exercise that is an easy, cost-free and effective therapy done using a pencil, as the name suggests.
Steps to do home-based pencil push ups are:
- Step 1 – Hold a pencil at an arm’s length in the midway between your eyes
- Step 2 – Move the pencil toward yourself
- Step 3 – Look at the moving pencil and maintain a single image of the same
- Step 4 – Move the pencil to your nose until you cannot see it anymore
- Step 5 – Bring and hold the pencil at the closest point where a single image is possible
- Step 6 – When you start losing the single image, start again
- You may do 20 sets, that is 20 movements, of these pushups every day for 12 weeks.
Complications of squint eyes
If the squint is appearing after 3 months of age or happens all the time, you should get it treated at the earliest.
If left untreated, squint eye can lead to various other problems, such as:
- Persistent blurred vision
- Double vision
- Lazy eye (a condition in which the brain starts to ignore signals coming from the affected eye)
- Self-esteem issues
If your child has developed a lazy eye as a result of squint eye, your ENT doctor will focus on treating the lazy eye first.
Squint eye is a common condition which can be effectively treated with timely clinical intervention. Surgery for squint eye is considered a top line treatment in which the ENT surgeon detaches the eye muscles and connects them to a new position.
If you are seeking squint eye treatment, you can consult Dr. Vijay Verma at the CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon.
Ques 1. How can I fix squint eyes naturally?
You can fix squint eyes naturally with the help of eye exercises. The best and most common exercise is home-based pencil pushups.
Ques 2. Does squint eye increase with age?
Usually squint eyes develop during the early years of a child’s life. Sometimes, it may increase and develop in adults.
Ques 3. Is squint surgery painful?
No, squint surgery is done under the effects of anaesthesia and does not hurt. However, you may feel some level of discomfort.
Ques 4. Can squint be treated without surgery?
Yes, there are other methods to treat squint eyes which include injections, eye drops, eye patch and exercises.
Ques 5. What are the risks of squint surgery?
The common risks of squint surgery are another surgery, permanent double vision, infection, and loss of vision.