What is a squint?

Squint is the term used when the eyes are not pointing in the same direction. Most commonly one eye either turns in or out. Occasionally one eye may be higher than the other. If the eyes are not looking in the same direction then they are sending different signals to the brain and this can cause double vision.

The amount of squint can be measured and this is done by people who are trained in assessment of squints and their non-surgical treatment.

Why do squints happen?

A squint can occur for a number of different reasons which include:

  • Damage to the muscles controlling the eye
  • Damage to the nerves controlling the muscles
  • Poor development or damage to the eye muscle control centers in the brain
  • Poor vision in the eye can stop the brain being able to keep the eyes together. This occurs in adults who have had a squint as a child.

Why is it important?

A large squint can be a cosmetic problem. It can also cause double vision which can be very disabling. Double vision may also mean that you cannot drive.

Presence of squint can affect vision development in young children and can be a social or cosmetic problem in young adults.

Can squints be treated?

A full assessment of your eye and vision is performed and the cause of the squint is assessed. Sometimes no obvious cause can be found.

  • If the squint comes and goes then it may be possible to watch and see if it gets any worse.
  • Sometimes it is possible to treat the squint with glasses or exercises.
  • If these do not work then it may be that we need to consider doing an operation to reposition the muscles which control the eye to a better position to straighten the eyes up. It is preferable to undergo squint surgery if needed before the age of 10 years.

I need an operation so what happens next?

The angle of the squint needs to be measured and the movement of each affected muscle needs to be assessed. The amount the eyes are working together is also assessed. Your general health is discussed with one of our specially trained counsellor and the details of the operation are discussed with one of the doctors.

(You will then be asked to sign a form to say that you understand the type of operation which is going to be performed.)

Are there any risks?

Just like all other surgeries squint operations too have their risks; although most of them successfully straighten the eyes. There can be some bruising on the eye which can make it look red.

  • Under or overcorrection of the squint
  • Double vision, usually temporary
  • Loss of vision – very rarely, the vision in the operated eye can be made worse. This may be caused due to bleeding in the eye or infection.

What happens on the day of surgery?

You will be seen by the anesthetists who will discuss with you the anesthetic.
One or two eyes are operated on and the muscles will be either shortened or moved to a new position to straighten the eyes. In some cases it may not get corrected with one operation and another operation might be required.

What happens after surgery?

You can go home once you’re awake; this is usually 2-4 hours after the operation. The eye will feel gritty for around 3-5 days following surgery. The eye may look pink after surgery for up to 2-3 weeks and you will be asked to put eye drops during this period. Routine follow up appointment will be needed to check things are healing well. The exact position of the eye will be fully assessed over the next three months.