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Strabismus is also known as squints which is the misalignment of the eyes. It can be a deviation of one or both eyes and can be a convergent ('cross eyed') or divergent (eyes looking outward). A strabismus can be constant or intermittent and it can be present at birth or later in life. It is important to note that a newborn normally does not have co-ordinated eyes initially. However, the eyes should be straight most of the time by the age of three months and all of the time by six months. It is never normal for a squint to be there all the time.


In children it is often an eye muscle imbalance. However, both in children and adults, it can be caused due to an eye muscle nerve palsy (when the nerve to the muscle does not function properly). This may sometimes warrant a brain imaging scan.


The presence of a strabismus can be diagnosed during an eye examination using a cover test as well as observing the corneal reflection using a small torch. In childhood depending on the frequency or duration of the squint, amblyopia or lazy eye can develop.


Treatment depends on accurate diagnosis of the type and amount of the squint and may involve glasses and/or squint surgery. Squint surgery does not necessarily mean a child will still not need glasses. Additional patching for amblyopia is often prescribedSquint surgery is used to align the eyes when glasses have not helped to fully reduce the squint to a cosmetic level. Surgery involves strengthening or weakening the appropriate muscles so as to align the eyes. The operation is day surgery and takes about one hour under a general anaesthetic.

For more information on what to expect on the day of squint surgery for a child click here.

For more information on what to expect on the day of squint surgery for an adult click here