What is squint surgery?
A squint is a condition when the eyes are not co-ordinated and are looking in different directions. People generally tend to refer to it by different names such as ‘turn in the eye’, ‘glide in the eye’, ‘lazy eye’ or ‘cock eyed’.
Should I be concerned if my child has a squint?
A squint affects a child in two ways:
Firstly, it affects brain development. The back of the brain normally merges the image from each eye to give single stereoscopic (3 D) vision. A squint stops this happening. The child may end up not only losing stereo vision but may also end up with permanent low vision (a ‘lazy’ eye).
Secondly, the child can be teased or bullied at school.
My adult friend has a squint. I thought only children have a squint?
Adults can have squint too. Most of them will have history of a childhood squint or operations carried out in childhood for a squint. Squints can sometimes occur suddenly in adults causing double vision. Sudden onset squints need a thorough assessment to check for any neurological or muscular disease.
What problems does a squint cause in adults?
A squint in an adult may cause visual problems such as double vision, blurred vision and even panoramic or chameleon vision.
For most, however, a squint causes embarrassment, resulting in a loss of confidence and low self- esteem, and limiting professional and social interactions. Eye contact, which is so important for fae to face communication, is adversely affected.
How can the squint be treated?
First, a thorough examination is needed to look for any cause for the squint, the extent of the squint and the effect it has on sight and life. Children usually need a period of observation and some treatment like glasses and patching before any operation can be carried out. Adults with double vision may need some investigations.
The squint operation is usually carried under a general anaesthetic. All patients go home on the same day of the surgery. The effect of the operation in straightening the eyes is visible by the next day. There is no need to take time off from work as there is no pain or patching involved.
Will the squint recur?
Not usually. Careful planning, doing the appropriate amount of surgery and using adjustable sutures (stitches) helps to prevent recurrence.
What if I do not want the operation?
Botox injections can be used to correct some squints but the effects are not permanent and the injections need to be repeated.
Can I see some photos of squint correction?
It is difficult to put photos on a public platform due to privacy and data protection laws. However, patient photos and testimonials can be shown during a consultation, if needed.
What does squint surgery involve?
The operation will be usually be performed under a general anaesthetic. Each eye has six muscles, which can be accessed through the conjunctiva (the membrane overlying the white outer coat of the eyeball). The muscles may be slackened off or tightened up and this corrects the squint. The eye will not be taken out of the socket during surgery (this is a common myth). Your eye may be covered with an eye pad immediately following your operation, which can be removed the next day.
How does it take for a squint to go away?
The squint will resolve soon after the operation.
What does an adjustable suture (stitch) involve?
In this technique, the muscle will be secured with an adjustable suture, which is similar to the knot used when tying your shoelace. If the eye alignment is satisfactory, nothing further will need to be done. If it is felt that the position of your eye needs to be adjusted, following the instillation of some anaesthetic drops, the sutures will be manipulated to adjust the muscle.
How long will I be in hospital?
Most patients are admitted on the day of surgery and are discharged home later the same day.
What happens after going home?
You will be given some drops to be used 3 times a day for a month. You may experience mild discomfort for a few days. The eye will look blood shot for about a month. You can carry on working and undertaking mild exercise after a couple of days. You should avoid contact sports and swimming for 6 weeks. After 6-8 weeks, the redness will usually have gone and the eye will look normal.