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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Squint (childhood strabismus)

Keko (karu rewha ā-taitamarikitanga)

A squint (or strabismus) is when a person's eyes aren't looking in the same direction. A squint may be noticeable all the time or it may come and go.

The eyes of newborn pēpi (babies) may sometimes appear to wander or be turned. But by around 4 months of age, your baby's eyes should be straight and move together in all directions.

Some pēpi look like they have a squint due to the wide bridge of their nose. As they grow, their features develop, and this appearance goes away. But a tamaiti (child) with a true squint will not grow out of it.

The main complication of a squint is amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. This is when one eye isn't used and can develop poor vision.

There are different types of squint depending on where the eye looks. These are shown in the diagram.

Causes of a squint

Tamariki (children) can be born with a squint or develop it in childhood. Often, it's caused by a problem with the muscles that move the eyes and can run in families.

Sometimes, a tamaiti may develop a squint because an eye is abnormal and there is a problem with its sight.

Diagnosing a squint

See your general practice team if you think your pēpi or tamaiti has a squint.

Treating a squint

Tamariki do not outgrow a squint. It's important to start treatment at an early age.

Treatment might include glasses, patching, exercises or surgery and is usually a combination of these.

Your tamaiti will need to see an ophthalmologist (specialist eye doctor) or an orthoptist (specialist in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of certain eye problems).

The aims of treatment are:

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Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed March 2023.


Page reference: 265569

Review key: HIVIP-134077