Important:Dr Manish Malhotra (Consultant Ophthalmology ) shall not be available on 25December 2017. Please do not schedule appointments during that time. Can take appointments from Tuesday 5.30pm
Squint Management & Surgery

Strabismus - Squint or Misaligned Eyes

Misalignment of eyes (crossed eyes) is called squint or strabismus. In this the eyes point in different directions, which can be inward , outward , upward or downward. This can lead to disruption of the visual development process. This problem is often detected in childhood and should not be neglected. At Manna Clinic & Maternity Home & Eyes Care there is a dedicated Squint & Orthoptics service committed to provide the best possible care to protect your child's vision

Binocular Vision & Depth Perception

The eyes are designed to focus images clearly on the retina and then to relay that image to the brain. If both eyes focus on the same target, the visual portion of the brain can fuse the two pictures into a single 3-dimensional image. This creates binocular vision and depth perception, which helps the eyes work together and form a SINGLE "picture" to the brain.

When one eye turns as in squint, two different images are sent to the brain. In a young child, the brain learns to ignore the image of the misaligned eye and see only the image from the straight or preferred eye (thus causing AMBLYOPIA OR LAZY EYE). The image of the worse eye is suppressed, which causes loss of depth perception. Adults who develop strabismus usually have double vision because their brain is already trained to receive images from both eyes and cannot ignore the image from the weaker or turned eye.

What Is Amblyopia ("Lazy Eye")?


Normal alignment of both eyes during early childhood is necessary to allow good vision to develop in each eye. Abnormal alignment as in strabismus may cause reduced vision or amblyopia ("lazy eye") and vice versa (because its not only squint that causes Amblyopia but it can also be Amblyopia which can cause squint), which is not correctable by glasses or contact lenses. Amblyopia occurs in approximately one-half of children with strabismus. The brain will recognize the image of the better-seeing eye and ignore the image of the weaker or amblyopic eye. Amblyopia often can be reversed by patching the preferred or better-seeing eye in order to strengthen and improve the vision of the weaker one. If amblyopia is detected before the first few years of life, treatment is often successful. If adequate treatment is delayed until later, amblyopia or reduced vision generally becomes permanent. As a rule, the earlier amblyopia is treated, the better the visual result.

Amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus are not the same condition. Strabismus is one of the causes of amblyopia. Other causes are the one which cause obstruction or blurr in the visual axis like anisometropia (highly different spectacle prescriptions in each eye), obstruction of vision in an eye due to injury, cataract, lid droop, etc...

How is Squint Caused?

Strabismus is caused by misaligned eye muscles. However, the exact reason for the misalignment of the eyes leading to strabismus is not fully understood. Many factors can be responsible for strabismus.

  • Inappropriate development of the "fusion center" of the brain, this is why children with cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome and hydrocephalus often have strabismus. Even a brain tumor may cause strabismus.
  • Genetics, it is known that strabismus may run in families. However, in many patients there are no relatives with the problem. Squint is not a gender biased condition.
  • Associated eye conditions may also give rise to strabismus. In cases of cataract, injury or tumor within the eye, the eye may frequently turn in or out

What are the Symptoms of Strabismus?

The primary symptom of strabismus is that the eye is not straight in respect to the other eye. The misalignment may be permanent and always noticeable (constant strabismus) or it may come and go (intermittent strabismus).In other cases, the turned eye may straighten at times, and the straight eye may turn (alternating strabismus).

Sometimes a youngster will close one eye in bright sunlight. Faulty depth perception may be present. Some children turn or tilt their heads in a specific direction in order to use their eyes together.

Up to the first 6 months of age, intermittent strabismus is a normal developmental milestone. After 6 months, it needs to be evaluated.

Detection and Diagnosis

A child should be examined by a pediatric ophthalmology and squint specialist during infancy and preschool in order to detect any potential eye problem, particularly if a relative has had strabismus or amblyopia, because even the most observant parent may not discover strabismus without a doctor's help.


Young children usually have a wide, flat nose and a redundant fold of skin at the inner eyelid that tends to hide the eye during side gaze and cause concern about strabismus. An ophthalmologist can readily distinguish this from true strabismus.


Why Is Early Detection Important?

It is never too early to have a child's eyes examined. An ophthalmologist can test even a newborn infant's eyes. It is known that the maximum "critical period" in humans for the development of binocular vision with resultant depth perception is from just after birth to 2 years of age. Any disruption of binocular vision in this period will therefore result in strabismus and/or amblyopia. If the eye examination is delayed until the child enters school, it may be too late to properly correct strabismus and amblyopia.

Parents often get the false impression that a child may "outgrow" the problem. Though fatigue or illness may worsen strabismus, children do not outgrow strabismus. Once a child has asuspected turning of an eye, an examination by an ophthalmologist is necessary to determine the cause and to begin treatment.

When is it too late to treat Strabismus or Lazy Eye?

It is often asked at what age treatment no longer should be attempted. Age should not be a deterrent factor for treatment , though treatment under 6 years of age (especially before 2) is ideal and allows better results than later treatment. After age 6, age is not important. However, every attempt should be made to improve strabismus and lazy eye, even though treatment might not be as effective after the age of six, and definitely requires more work.

What Is The of Treatment

The goal of treatment is to preserve vision, straighten the eyes, and restore binocular vision. Treatment of strabismus depends upon the exact cause of the misaligned eyes. It can be directed towards unbalanced muscles, cataract removal or other conditions that are causing the eyes to turn. After a complete eye examination, including a detailed study of the inner parts of the eye, an ophthalmologist can recommend appropriate optical, medical or surgical therapy. Covering or patching the good eye to force use of the amblyopic eye may be necessary to ensure equal vision.

Constant strabismus must be dealt with immediately if one wants to re-establish proper use of the eyes. Treatment for this condition needs to be early and aggressive. If the eye turn is constant and simple things like patching, glasses (bifocal, prismatic, etc) do not eliminate the eye turn, surgery needs to be considered.

With intermittent strabismus, the eye does not turn in all the time, so the brain is probably receiving appropriate stimulation for the development of binocular vision. Children with intermittent eye turns should be handled with judicious patching, special glasses, and/or orthoptics (special eye excercises designed to encourage binocular vision). Surgery, if considered at all, should be a last resort.

The two most common types of strabismus are esotropia, where an eye turns in and exotropia, where an eye turns out.

Treatment of Various Kinds of Strabismus Esotropia

ESOTROPIA (inward turning of eyes). Infants developing Esotropia within the first three months of life (Congenital or Infantile Esotropia) usually have a large inward turn. The chances of developing normal binocular vision with normal depth perception are not good and may lose vision in the weaker eye. However, the best chance is with early aggressive surgery. Treatment after the age of 2 decreases the chances of improvement of vision, and the ability to use the two eyes together.  Both the parent and surgeon have to be committed to multiple procedures to obtain perfect alignment. The aim of eye surgery is to adjust the muscle tension on one or both eyes. In surgery for Esotropia, the tight inner muscles are placed further backward which weakens their pull. Sometimes the outer muscles may be tightened by shortening the muscle length, which further pulls the eye outward.

Strabismus surgery is usually a safe and effective treatment, but is not a substitute for glasses or amblyopia therapy. During surgery, A small incision is made within the tissues I.E. THE WHITE PART OF THE EYE (Sclera) covering the eye to allow access to the eye muscles. Selection of eye muscles to be operated upon depends upon the direction the eye is turning. Despite a thorough clinical evaluation and good surgical technique, the eyes may be closely aligned after surgery, but not perfect. In these cases, fine adjustment is dependent upon the coordination between the eye and the brain. Sometimes patients may require the use of prisms or glasses following eye muscle surgery. Over-corrections or under-corrections can occur and further surgery may be needed.

One or both eyes may be operated upon. General anesthesia is required in children and at Manna Clinic & Maternity Home & Eyes care we have a trained Pediatric anesthetist and the drug of choice for anesthesia used is Sevoflorane . Some adults may prefer local anesthesia. Recovery time is rapid and the patient is usually able to return to normal activity within a few days. As with any surgery, eye muscle surgery has certain risks. There is a small risk of infection, bleeding, excessive scarring, and other rare complications, which can lead to loss of vision.

Another common form of esotropia that occurs in children usually after age two is caused by a need for glasses (accommodative esotropia). These children are farsighted (hypermetropia or plus power in spectacles). They have the ability to focus their eyes enough to adjust for the farsightedness, which allows them to see well for both distance and near. Some children excessively cross their eyes when they focus, which causes one eye to turn in. Wearing glasses equal in strength to their farsightedness reduces the need to focus and straightens their eyes. Sometimes the addition of bifocals is necessary to further reduce the need to focus when looking at objects up close. Occasionally, eye drops and special lenses, called prisms, can be used to help the eyes focus properly. Rarely, special eye exercises (orthoptics) arenecessary to help older children control the eye misalignment.


Treatment of Various Kinds of Strabismus Exotropia

EXOTROPIA or an outward turning of an eye is another common type of strabismus. Most commonly this occurs when a child is focusing at distant objects. Often the exotropia will occur intermittently, particularly when the child is daydreaming, ill, or tired. Parents often note that the child squints one eye in the bright sunlight. Although glasses and prism therapy may reduce the amount of outward turning in some patients, surgery is usually needed.

Loss of Vision Due to Amblyopia Is Preventable

Treatment for strabismus is most effective when the child is young. It becomes more difficult to treat strabismus and establish binocularity as the child grows older, but cosmetic straightening of the eyes remains possible at any age. There is no known prevention for strabismus, but misaligned eyes can be straightened, and loss of sight from amblyopia is preventable if treatment is begun early.

Intermittent Exotropia

To summarise

  • Children with strabismus do not outgrow the condition.
  • Treatment for strabismus may be non-surgical and include eye drops or glasses.
  • If surgical treatment is indicated, it is wise to align the eyes when the child is young in order to allow more normal use of the eyes together.

Besides the conditions mentioned above in children, there are certain disorders in adults which are associated with strabismus. These include:

  • Thyroid disease
  • After cataract surgery
  • After retinal detachment surgery
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Paralysis of eye muscles due to Diabetes and Hypertension
  • Orbital fracture
Outward deviation due to Multiple Sclerosis
Upward deviation due to Thyroid Eye Disease
Get Quote