Squint is the common name for ‘strabismus’ which is the medical term used to describe eyes that are not pointing in the same direction. A squint can be convergent (esotropia), divergent (exotropia) or vertical.
The squint may be present all or only part of the time, in only one eye or alternating between the two eyes.
It has been estimated that four in every 100 adults suffer from this condition. Adult squints are of three main types: non-paralytic, paralytic and restrictive. Non-paralytic squints are usually a longstanding from childhood. The most common pattern is that an eye that was straight after childhood squint surgery later drifts out and causes concern over its appearance. In a paralytic squint an eye does not move normally because one or more eye muscles are weak or paralysed. This problem may have developed as a result of other health problems, such as damage to cranial nerves, following head injury or as a complication of diabetes or stroke. Such people will, most likely, suffer from troublesome double vision.
Investigations may be required to discover the underlying cause. In a restrictive squint one or both eye do not move fully because of scarring or tethering of one or more muscles. A common example of this occurs in thyroid eye disease.
Symptoms of adult squint problems include fatigue, double vision, difficulty with near vision and loss of stereo vision. To compensate for this, some individuals will adopt an abnormal head position. Many adults with squint are concerned about the appearance of their eyes and the impact this has on social relationships and work.
Occasionally, squints that have been corrected during childhood reappear in adulthood. New squints that affect adults may cause double vision as the brain has been trained to collect images from both eyes.
If you develop a new squint, call us on 020 7566 2803 as soon as possible to book an appointment with one of our consultants who will carry out an examination to identify the cause.
The appearance of a squint may cause a problem in adults whose squint was not treated when they were young. This may lead to low self esteem.
Most adults who are concerned about the appearance of their squint can be helped by squint surgery. Similarly, double vision can often be improved by squint surgery.
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