Squinting is a risk sign in children

When babies are born they still have to learn how to see. In the beginning, it is often difficult for them to properly coordinate the movement of both eyes and to fix objects. That’s why babies squint sometimes. If strabismus occurs temporarily in the first few months, this is no cause for concern. It is properly the so-called baby squint. But parents should pay attention on how the squint develops – does it occur less or does the child still squint?

different forms of strabismus

Vigilance is required if a child squints at six months of age

It is advisable to go to an ophthalmologist with children, who are still squinting after six months of age – especially if even the parents have a vision disorder or had one in their childhood. In most ophthalmic practices there are vision schools where specially trained ophthalmologists are working. Christa Kampf is such an orthoptist who has been examining children in an ophthalmic practice since the 1970s and treats their vision disorders. She says: “Up to the age of eight months temporary strabismus can still be normal – after that no more.”

Connection between strabismus and ametropia

It may happen that there is a big difference in the refractive power of both eyes (anisometropia) and one eye has a significantly better vision than the other. Christa Kampf explains, that this can also be related to strabismus: “If one eye has no vision, it eventually falls into rest position. That’s why it happens – sometimes at a later age – that a child suddenly starts to squint.” This can also occur with a high hyperopia.

If strabismus remains untreated, amblyopia can occur

If squinting is not treated, amblyopia develops in 90% of the cases. If this amblyopia is not treated in time, it remains for the rest of life. The amblyopia of the eye results in poor vision, which cannot be compensated by glasses. This is the result of not using one eye. The keen-seeing eye is preferred when squinting gives double vision to the brain or when an eye delivers blurred images due to a refractive error. So it can happen that an actually healthy eye is simply switched off. Spatial vision cannot develop properly, for this the child has to learn to have binocular vision.

Preventive eye care offers best treatment opportunities – start with an amblyopia screening at the pediatrician’s office.

“The sooner a vision disorder is treated, the better amblyopia can be treated or even prevented.” Spatial vision can still be learned, because the learning ability is highest in infants and early childhood and most vision disorders are easily correctable.  The prerequisite is that the vision disorder is detected in time, which ideally is in the first two years of life, because visual acuity develops during this time.  A good opportunity for the early detection of vision disorders is the amblyopia screening, which is offered by numerous pediatric practices and reimbursable by many health insurances.  The pediatrician receives objective measurement results, which are compared with the normal values of the age group.  This is possible at the early age of five months.  Children whose measured values differ from the normal values in the age group and whose results are “suspicious” should be referred to an ophthalmologist.

 

For more information about preventive eye care, click: https://www.visionscreening.org/de/home

For more information about the Plusoptix Vision Screener, click: https://plusoptix.com/en/vision-screener/landing

 

 

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