Squint and Amblyopia in Babies

6 min read

Every parent wants their child to be healthy and achieve the developmental milestones at the correct time. It is essential to ensure that every organ develops appropriately. The eye is the one of most important organs. During the first few months of the new baby, their eyes may wander across in different directions. By six months, their eyes become straight, but sometimes it takes longer which can be a cause of worry as it can be strabismus or squint eye. Please scroll down to know more about what does squint means and why do babies go cross-eyed.

squint eyes

What is Strabismus?

In simple terms, strabismus is a medical condition where the eyes lack coordination between them. The alignment of both eyes will be in a different direction. One eye would have a straight view, and the other would be in any other direction. The common name for strabismus is “Squint eye.” In this condition, the newborn’s eye with a straight view becomes dominant, and the other eye is called a Lazy eye.

What are the Types of Squint/ Strabismus?

The Squint eye is classified into different types based on various characteristics:

1. Based on Direction:

  • Inward or Esotropia
  • Outward or Exotropia
  • Upward or Hypertropia
  • Downward or Hypotropia

types of strabismus eyes

2. Based on Continuity Eye:

  • Constant Squint:

When the baby is squinting eyes for a prolonged period.

  • Intermittent Squint:

When the eyes are turning inward suddenly or sudden lazy eye.

3. Based on Open or Closed Eye:

  • Manifest Squint:

Both the eyes are open and being used

  • Latent Squint:

When the eye turns only when it’s closed or covered.

4. Based on the Severity:

  • Concomitant Squint:

The angle of squint remains the same.

  • Incomitant Squint

The angle of squint differs every time.

What are the Causes of Strabismus in Babies?

Have you wondered what causes crossed eyes in babies? The newborn is prone to strabismus between 1 to 4 years of age. The following are some of the causes of squint in babies:

  • Problems in the muscle movement in the eyes
  • Hereditary
  • Certain eye conditions, including congenital cataracts, retinal and optical nerve conditions
  • Long-sightedness

How is Strabismus in Babies Diagnosed?

We can look at the alignment of the baby`s vision during the first few months to identify strabismus. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that it is common for babies to develop intermittent squint during the first six months. It is the period during which the eye muscles try to coordinate with the brain. It is believed that such intermittent squint is healthy. However, if the squint continues even after one year, it calls for an early diagnosis with the doctors.

What are the Long-Run Effects of a Squint on Baby’s Vision?

As babies grow, the brain develops a chain of command from the eyes and reflects the light before them. But, when both eyes show different angles of the same image, it is complicated for the brain to accept a single command. So, over a period, it starts to take the command from the eye, which has a straight vision. It ignores the signals from the squint eyes, and in the long run, the child may stop using the squint eyes. By that time, the children might have got used to looking with a single eye. When the brain stops using the signal from the squint eye, it is known as Suppression and might hinder the vision in that eye as it is no longer being used.

Can Babies be Tested for Squint?

Usually, the doctors conduct a preliminary eye test for strabismus in infants within 72 hours. However, as they grow, it is essential to look out for the signs of any squint as a parent. The infants cannot identify or express the squint on their own. To begin with, you can check with your pediatrician and visit an ophthalmologist. It involves a simple test where the baby’s eye will be covered to check the angle of vision. The doctors would also check the eyeball movement. The procedure is straightforward and does not cause any discomfort to the infant.

baby with glasses

How is Squint Eye in Babies Treated?

The treatment for a cross-eyed baby is ongoing, and the time to recover depends upon the age and the type of squint. Many parents are confused about how to fix the cross-eyes naturally. Discuss natural methods with your doctor that can be offered to your baby. However, in general, the following are the available treatments:

  • Glasses:

The glasses are the best option for accommodative squint. It is a condition where the squint becomes less noticeable or disappears entirely after wearing glasses.

  • Occlusion Therapy (or) Patching:

Occlusion therapy does not straighten the squint vision. Instead, it enhances the vision of the lazy eye. The baby`s eye with good vision will be covered with a patch, and the baby will need to now look with the squint eye. This procedure will help the brain execute the commands received from the squint eye and improve the cross-eye.

baby with eye patch to treat squint eyes

  • Exercises:

The doctors might suggest specific exercises to enhance the vision of the squint eye.

  • Surgery:

If none of the above methods improve the alignment and vision of the squint eye, surgery may be performed to straighten the eye.

  • Botulinum Toxin Injection (Botox):

In a rare instance, where the baby has undergone several squint surgeries and still failed to improve, Botox injection may be prescribed.

What is Amblyopia(Lazy Eye)?

When the brain suppresses or completely stops receiving the command from one or both eyes because of squint, the affected eye is termed as “Lazy Eye.” If strabismus baby is not detected and treated early, it may lead to your baby being affected by Amblyopia or Lazy eye.

amblyopia or lazy eyes

How is Amblyopia Diagnosed?

If squint is not detected and treated early, it is tough to identify amblyopia. Because the little one might have got used to seeing with a single eye, and they might not be able to express it. Usually, mothers are alert to small changes in their babies and so they need to consult a doctor. Ophthalmologists can give an accurate result for amblyopia.

Can Babies be Tested for Amblyopia?

It is always recommended to get your baby tested with the ophthalmologist to test for amblyopia. However, if you want to test before the appointment, you can follow the simple Occlusion therapy at home. You can cover the good eye with a patch and move a toy in front of the baby in all directions. Look out for the movement of the eye muscles. Similarly, do the same procedure with the second eye.

How is Baby Amblyopia Treated?

The treatment for amblyopia in babies should be started as early as possible. Early detection results in successful treatment. The success rate of therapy would decline after six years and is unlikely to succeed after eight years. There are two main treatments for the cross-eyed baby:

  • Rectifying or treating the underlying eye conditions if any, that leads to cross-eye
  • Recommending to use the infant`s lazy eye to enhance the vision

Now, you know the squint eye meaning and how to treat the same. If you are confused or doubtful whether your baby might have a squint eye or a slightly lazy eye, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with the ophthalmologist at the earliest. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Read Also:

Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis) In Babies – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

All About Sticky Eyes In Newborn Babies

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