Understanding why a child has been sent to an ophthalmologist

If your child is suspected to have poor vision or a squint, he/she will be referred to an ophthalmologist.
Poor Vision
Your child may have poor vision in one or both eyes because of need for glasses or having a squint.
Since a child’s eyes are fully developed around age 7, it is vital to provide treatment at the   earliest. If left untreated, the vision may never reach a normal level and may develop a ‘Lazy’ eye (Amblyopia).

A squint is a condition in which the two eyes are misaligned. One eye can turn in (converge), or out (diverge), or less commonly go up or down. Squints are quite common. Approximately 2-4% of children have squint.

What causes a squint?

There are several types of squint and the causes are not always known. Your child has a higher 

Probability of developing a squint if he/she has
  • Family history of squint or glasses.
  • Farsightedness (hypermetropia) - most commonly such children develop an inward turning squint when they make an effort to see more clearly.
  • Premature birth
  • Physical or mental disability
When does a squint develop?

A squint can be present at birth or develop soon       thereafter. A squint can also develop any time in life but is often seen at 2½ - 3 years when the child starts to    focus on objects. Sometimes the shape of a baby’s face  may give an appearance of a squint although there is no real misalignment. This ‘Pseudosquint’ becomes  less apparent as your child grows older. A baby will NOT ‘grow out’ of a true squint. A suspected squint needs to be examined by an ophthalmologist.
How does a squint affect a child?

A squint can affect your child in following ways:

1. Reduced vision: Any interruption in development  of vision (i.e. a squint  or refractive error) till the age of 7 can have a lasting defect in vision. The vision in a squinting eye will deteriorate if left untreated.

2. Loss of ability to use both eyes together:  A normal child has the ability to use both eyes together and appreciate  binocular 3D vision.

3. Appearance: Other children at school often remark upon a noticeable squint which may distress your child. Large squints prevent normal eye contact which is important for social interaction.

How are the eyes of kids examined?

As all kids do not cooperate, it is difficult / impossible to examine them satisfactorily. Hence it becomes   necessary to examine them under sedation/ short     anaesthesia (Examination Under Anaesthesia) for   refractive errors / other defects.

What is the treatment for a squint?

Treatment of your child’s squint may involve some or all of the following:

Glasses ● Patching ● Exercises ● Surgery

The ophthalmologist supervises the entire treatment and monitors success.