Dr André Burger



Squint in children

What is a squint?

A squint is when an eye turns or wanders so that it does not work with the other eye. The medical term for a squint is strabismus. The eye may turn inwards, outwards or occasionally upwards or downwards. A squint may be there all the time or appear intermittently especially when the child is tired or ill.

A squint may be noticed by the child's parents, friends or family.

If someone comments on your child's eye alignment, it is always better to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Burger.

He will evaluate your child's eyes and the alignment, to confirm or exclude the diagnosis, and to exclude important causes and complications of the squint.

What causes a squint?

There are several types, and causes for a squint.

Dr. Burger will determine the type of squint and then discuss the various causes of that particular squint during your consultation.

Squints may be caused by eye muscle imbalance. There are six muscles around each eye which move the eyes and, if they are not well balanced, one eye may turn.

There may be a strong family history when it comes to squints. A common cause of an inward turned eye is that the child is long sighted and my need spectacles for this. Sometimes a squint is first noticed after the child has been unwell. Usually the squint would have happened anyway but the illness brought it on more quickly.

Will my child grow out of the squint?

Some very young babies have intermittent squints that get better by the age of three months. A squint that is still present after three months of age needs to be checked by an Ophthalmologist, such as Dr. Burger.

Is the squint important?

Yes it is. It may affect your child's eye sight and/or visual development. Without proper intervention, this may lead to permanent damage or dysfunction of the eye. Every child with a squint needs an eye consultation as soon as possible.

The sight in the eye with the squint may not develop normally, because the deviated eye is not being used properly – this is called a lazy eye (the medical term for this is amblyopia). The squint may make it difficult for the two eyes to work together and this may reduce the child's 3-D (depth perception) vision. This does not usually cause children any problems in their everyday lives but there are a few careers that they may not be able to do, for example truck driver, fire-fighter, pilot, Ophthalmologist. This can also affect his or her sporting abilities. Some squints can affect the child's appearance and make it difficult to tell where they are looking.

Children may notice this and make nasty remarks, which could have a psychological impact on the child's development. Dr. Burger will happily help and guide you on important decisions to be made.

What treatments may be needed?


Many children with a squint need glasses. The most common reason for glasses is that the child has long-sight which is causing one eye to turn inwards. The long-sighted glasses help the eyes to focus and may stop the eye turning. You may still notice the squint when the glasses are taken off.


Wearing a patch over the stronger eye can improve the sight in the eye with the squint. Please do not patch any eye without a proper eye investigation by an Ophthalmologist such as Dr. Burger.


If a child with a squint does not need glasses or if glasses do not correct the squint, then an operation on the muscles that move the eyes may be considered. The operation straightens the eyes by improving the balance of the eye muscles.

Who will treat my child's squint?

Dr. Burger likes to use a team approach when it comes to squints. This may involve other specialists as well as optometrists.

This ensures optimal results. He would like to help your child as though the child was one of his own. Dr. Burger will check that the eyes are healthy and test to see if your child needs glasses and/or patching. He will advise you if an operation is necessary.