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Squints in Children

Squints in Children

Squint in children

A squint is a condition where the eyes do not look together in the same direction. Whilst one eye looks straight ahead, the other eye turns to point inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards. Squints are common and affect about 1 in 20 children.

Congenital squints
Congenital squint means that the child is born with a squint, or it develops within the first six months of life. In most cases, the eye muscles are not balanced but the reason for this is not known.
In most cases one eye turns inward. This is called congenital esotropia (sometimes called infantile esotropia). In some cases the eye turns outwards (congenital exotropia). Less commonly, a squint of unknown cause may result in an upward or downward turn of the eye.

Squint related to refractive errors
Refractive errors include: short sight (myopia), long sight (hypermetropia) and astigmatism. When the child with a refractive error tries to focus to see clearly, an eye may turn. This type of squint tends to develop in children who are 2 years or older, in particular in children with long sight. The squint is most commonly inward looking (an esotropia).

Other causes
Most children with a squint have one of the above types of squint and are otherwise healthy. However, in some cases, a squint is one feature of a more generalised genetic or brain condition. Squints can occur in some children with cerebral palsy, Noonan’s syndrome, Down’s syndrome, hydrocephalus, brain injury or tumour, a rare type of eye cancer (called retinoblastoma) and several other conditions.