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Dr Shamsher Singh Eye Hospital
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November 2017
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Squint

What is a latent squint?

Answer

A latent squint is a type of squint that only occurs when your eye is covered or closed. There is no squint when your eyes are open and being used.

Explanation

A latent squint is when your eyes are straight while they are open and being used, but misaligned when they are covered or closed. Latent squints are very common and rarely any cause for concern.

Latent squints are most often discovered by accident, for example when you’re very tired, have drunk alcohol or taken sedative medicines, or when you’re in bright sunlight.

To diagnose a latent squint, your ophthalmologist or optometrist will use an alternate-cover test. This test is done by alternately covering one eye then the other. If you have a latent squint, there will be a small amount of movement in the affected eye each time one is uncovered.

You won’t need treatment for a latent squint. However, if the tests show that you have other visual problems, these may need to be treated.

If you have any questions or concerns about a latent squint, talk to your GP or optometrist.

Will my child grow out of his or her squint?

Answer

No, your child will not grow out of his or her squint and will need treatment to straighten the eye. If left untreated, a squint can cause permanent damage to his or her eyesight.

Explanation

During childhood, the development of vision can be damaged by problems or conditions affecting the eyes. With a squint, the main area of concern is binocular single vision (BSV).

BSV allows your child to see the world three-dimensionally. When your child looks at something, both eyes pick up the image. These images are then sent to the brain where they are turned into one image. Each image provides slightly different information about the object enabling your child to interpret depth (the ability to judge distance between objects). If your child has a squint and the eyes aren’t correctly aligned, BSV can’t develop properly and his or her sight may be permanently affected.

Untreated squints also carry the risk of your child developing a lazy eye (amblyopia). When the eyes aren’t aligned, they pick up two very different images. This causes double vision when the images are sent to the brain. To overcome this, the brain starts to ignore one of the images so that a clear picture is seen. The eye that is ignored is called a lazy eye. If left untreated, it can lead to vision being lost completely in the affected eye. One in three children with a squint develops a lazy eye.

The older your child gets, the more difficult it is to reverse problems with BSV or a lazy eye – both conditions are usually permanent by the age of seven or eight. Therefore, it’s important that your child has treatment for his or her squint as early as possible.

For more information or advice about squints, talk to your GP.

My newborn has a squint – what should I do?

Answer

It’s quite common for newborn babies to have a squint. If your baby still has a squint when he or she is over three months old, talk to your GP.

Explanation

Babies under three months old often have squints. These are usually nothing to be concerned about and disappear within the first few months of life.

However, if your baby still has a squint after three months, it may indicate that there is a problem with his or her eyes.

Your GP or optometrist will be able to diagnose a squint. An optometrist is a healthcare professional who examines eyes, tests sight and dispenses glasses and contact lenses. He or she may refer your child to an ophthalmologist for further tests and treatment. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who identifies and treats conditions affecting the eyes, and can carry out surgical treatments.

If you have any further questions or concerns about squint, talk to your GP.

 

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