Can you cure a squint or strabismus with eye exercises?
Both children and adults can get squints.
A squint is when one eye looks in a different direction from the other eye. Medically we call a squint ‘strabismus’, and there are different therapeutic options that a specialist ophthalmologist will consider based on each person’s case. At Clinica London, we look after both children and adult patients with squints.
We can correct or rehabilitate a small number of squints with orthoptic exercises or with prisms. A full orthoptic assessment, as well as an ophthalmic specialist, is required for all patients with squint. The orthoptist will take measurements of the eyes and determine how many prism dioptres of either in-turning (esotropia) or out-turning (exotropia or divergence) is required.
Mr Ashwin Reddy sees children with squint, and he has to decide whether there is a refractive error, and if there is one, he can often correct the squint either with glasses or contact lenses.
In some cases, a squint that is turning in called an esotropia or convergent squint, may not require surgery, but rather just glasses until the child is much older. Some children are at risk of developing amblyopia or a lazy eye in the eye that is converging and a specialist will help restore vision to that eye.
The most effective way of doing this involves occlusion of the healthy eye using an eye patch. Once we have corrected the optical error and reduced or corrected the amblyopia, then if the convergent squint persists we can consider surgery as a next step.
Jane Olver at Clinica London manages patients with an adult squint. The most common type of squints she sees is a patient with a consecutive squint, where the eye is turning outwards. These patients have often started off with an eye turning inwards or converging, when they were much younger. They may have had glasses to correct a refractive error, possibly amblyopia treatment with patching and previous corrective squint surgery.
As they get older in their 30 or 40 or even 50s, they may get a consecutive divergence which requires Jane Olver and the orthoptists to examine and take eye measurements. Then they can decide whether there is a risk of double vision with any future squint surgery.
If there is not a risk of double vision or it is a very low risk, then she can do exploratory squint surgery where she determines where the muscle had been put and where they currently are, and then she moves the eye muscles surgically to bring back the eye into the normal position. We call this procedure adult squint surgery on adjustable sutures.
Both children and adults have squint surgery under general anaesthetic, either at the Harley Street Clinic if they are a child, or the Weymouth Clinic if they are an adult. Squint surgery usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half, and we do it as a day case.
After the squint surgery, the eye can be quite red and need eye drops for up to three weeks. For the first 24 hours, we usually put an eye pad on, unless the patient is very young and will not tolerate an eye pad.
In adult patients where we have used an adjustable suture, Ms Olver may have to make a small adjustment of the squint stitch on the first day after the surgery. Very often, however, the squint is just in the right place, and we don’t need to do any further adjustments.