Children are not miniature adults. Their eyes, visual needs, and disorders are entirely different from those of adults. Since they are rapidly growing, and are yet to develop a fully mature eye-brain coordination, disorders of vision in children require special attention and focus. This is why this branch of Paediatric ophthalmology has evolved as a specialised discipline, and indeed a subspecialty in ophthalmology.
The paediatric ophthalmologist is responsible for taking care of the visual attention needs of the children, and ensuring a proper visual development regarding both function and structure (including cosmesis).
What is Squint ?
Technically know as Strabismus, Squint is a condition where the two eyes are misaligned. That is both eyes do not appear to be looking in the same direction. One eye may be looking at an object and the other eye may be turned in or out or up or down.
A squint may be constant (always apparent) or intermittent (seen only at times - usually when tired). Squints are more commonly seen in children. The condition affects 2% of children under 3 years and 3% of children and young adults.
It may be seen always in one eye or it may alternate and appear to shift from one eye to the other. For example the Right eye which is straight to start with, turns in as the Left eye looks straight or visa versa.
Types of Squint :
Squints are classified depending on direction of the squinting eye
Convergent squint or esotropia when one eye is turning in
Divergent squint or exotropia when the eye is turning out
Vertical squint (Hypertropia / Hypotropia) when one eye is pointing upwards/downward
The precise cause of squint is unclear in a large proportion of childhood squints. It is understood that the condition may be due to mis-functioning of the brain in moving the eye muscles synchronously. There is no defect in the eye muscles themselves. The other causes leading to a squint can be refractive errors like hypermetropia (long-sightedness), myopia (short-sightedness), astigmatism or unequal refractive error in both eyes.