A baby’s eyes are not fully developed at birth, even though they are already three-quarters of the size of an adult’s eyes. It is quite normal for a new baby’s eyes to seem uncoordinated – as if they aren’t working together. But in the first few weeks of life their co-ordination develops. If a baby is developing normally and is shown different shapes, sizes and colours, by six months old he or she will be able to focus on fine detail.
What is a strabismus (squint)?
This happens when the eyes are not coordinating. There can be more than one reason for this, but the most common is that it runs in the family or the baby had a difficult birth. Sometimes, what looks like a squint turns out to be a skin fold, because the baby’s nose is not fully developed. A full eye examination by the optometrist will show if a squint is present.
What is the treatment?
The optometrist may refer your child to hospital. The child may have to do eye exercises at home or when attending the Orthoptic Clinic at the Outpatients’ Department. Occasionally all that is needed is a pair of spectacles, to relax the eyes’ effort to focus.
Sometimes, surgery is needed to correct the squint. Early detection and treatment will give the best results. Uncorrected squints may lead to permanent eyesight problems.