Patient Care


What are Squints?

Squint or strabismus is a common condition affecting young children that may affect their sight, appearance and confidence if not detected and treated early. It is a condition that causes an adult or child's eyes to point in different directions. When looking at an object, a normal person has both eyes pointed straight at that object. If only one eye is looking straight and the other eye is turned away, then that person has strabismus, more commonly known as a squint.


An eye with a squint may become unable to see clearly. This weak eye is called a lazy eye. Lazy eye can only be cured if detected and treated early. The earlier the treatment, the better the results.

A person with a squint can only use one eye at a time. A person with two good eyes will be able to judge distances and depth more accurately than one with a squint. This may affect the choice of your child's future career and sports. A squint may also affect the appearance and self-confidence of your child. Hence it is sometimes desirable to operate on the child's squint at an early age. Last, but not least, an eye with a squint may have other conditions which need treatment.

For all these reasons, any infant or child with a squint should be examined by an eye specialist.

What causes Squints?

There are many causes of squints. It may be due to a disorder of a part of the brain controlling eye movements or it may be caused by weak eye muscles, heredity, cataract, and nerve conditions. Also, any eye with poor sight tends to squint.

Most people with squints do not have affected relatives and are of normal intelligence. However, since it occasionally runs in families, it is wise to check the rest of your children if a family member has a squint.

What are the treatment options of Squints?

A child with a squint needs a full eye checkup. This may take time as young children are often uncooperative and may need to be sedated.

Treatment may include a combination of patching, eye glasses, eye drops, eye exercises, and surgery. Treatment using the spectacles to correct any refractive errors may help some types of squint, but to be effective the spectacles must be worn most of the time. As children often resist, the responsibility falls to the parents to make sure they wear their spectacles constantly.

Any lazy eye must be treated. The most effective method is to cover the good eye with a patch so that the child is forced to use the lazy eye. Adequate treatment of lazy eye improves the results of surgery. Lastly, the eyes must be straightened to improve the appearance and to allow the child to use both eyes together, done usually by surgery. Surgery is only recommended if patching or eye glasses do not work.

How Is squint surgery performed?

Squint surgery is an operation on the muscles that move the eye. Strabismus surgery involves tightening the weak muscles and/or loosening the stronger ones so that the eyes are positioned better. Special absorbable stitches will hold the eye muscles in their new position. The surgeon will not cut the skin around the eye, take the eye out of its socket, or use any lasers during the operation. Sometimes both eyes need to be operated upon but this provides hardly any risk to the eye.

What are the risks of surgery?

This is a minor operation. As such, life-threatening or blinding complications are very rare. Children will undergo general anaesthesia and be asleep throughout the surgery, but this is very safe if your child is healthy. Sometimes double vision may occur after the operation, but this usually recovers without treatment after a few months.

How long will my child take to get well?

Your child's surgery will usually be performed as a day surgery. He/she will be admitted in the morning and will be allowed home on the same day after the operation. After discharge from the hospital, the next appointment will usually be on the next day, and again within one week. There is little or no pain after the operation and the eye is not patched, allowing the child to return to normal study and play after a few days. Swimming should be avoided for a month.

Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

You can search by -
  • Condition name 'Squint' AND
  • Institution
1E Kent Ridge Road, NUHS Tower Block, Singapore 119228
Last updated on
Best viewed with Chrome 79.0, Edge 112.0, Firefox 61.0, Safari 11
National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
  • Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
  • National University Polyclinics
  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
  • National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  • National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
  • NUHS Diagnostics
  • NUHS Pharmacy
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
Back to Top