When is it safe to take my baby out in public? Should I wake my baby to feed him? Should I worry about my baby’s green stools? Is it normal for my baby to have crossed eyes? These are just a few of the questions that new mothers worry about. Today we try and answer one of these – should you be worried about your baby’s crossed eyes?
What is a Squint or Crossed Eyes?
Squint, medically called as strabismus, is when your baby’s eyes seem to point in different directions or have trouble focusing on the same object. One eye may seem to drift in towards the nose or turned outwards towards the ears or up or down.
In certain cases, your child’s eyes may appear crossed when they are actually well aligned. This may be especially seen when your baby looks to either side. This is often seen in babies who have a wide nose bridge or have large eyelid folds. Your child eye doctor will be able to examine your baby and let you know if it is a true squint.
Should I be worried about my Baby’s crossed eyes?
Our eyes have six small muscles surround it which are made to work together so that both the eyes can turn in a circle. It is quite normal for babies’ eyes to be crossed or wander in different directions some of the time in the initial months. This is because in the initial months, your baby’s eyes are as uncoordinated as the rest of their body. If one of the eye muscles is weaker than the other, one eye may not be able to turn as well as the other and may lag behind. However, by the time your baby reaches the three month milestone, his or her eyes will most probably learn to work together.
If your baby’s eyes just appear cross eyed because of extra folds of skin in the inner corner of their eyes, you need not worry. As your baby grows, these folds disappear along with the cross eyed look.
When should I worry about my Child’s Squint?
You should visit a child eye doctor if you notice that,
- Your baby’s eyes are not aligned all the time.
- Your baby has difficulty following objects with both the eyes even after s/he has crossed the four month mark.
- Child eye doctors recommend that your baby should have a comprehensive eye check at six months, even if there seems to be no problem with your baby’s eyes by now.
- If there are other people in the family who have a squint or if your child has developmental problems like cerebral palsy, your child is more likely to have squinty eyes. If your child has these risk factors, you should be more watchful and visit your child eye specialist at the earliest.
- Older children who have always had a squint may not even know that they have an eye problem because this is how it has always been for them. However if the squint comes and goes, your child may be aware of blurry of double vision that happens occasionally. Older kids may also cover one eye to see clearly, tilt their head, have trouble judging distances, blink a lot or have trouble reading.
What can happen if your baby’s crossed eyes are not treated in time?
Normally, our brain merges the two images which are sent to it by the two eyes. In eyes that are well aligned, these two images are very similar. However if the two eyes are misaligned then the two images sent by the two eyes are not the same and the brain has trouble merging these two images. In order to avoid double vision, the brain ignores the images coming from the misaligned eye. Gradually as this eye remains unused, its vision goes on becoming weaker, a condition called amblyopia or lazy eye. If left untreated, the eye sending mismatched images can even go permanently blind.
If your baby is more than four months old or he has crossed eyes most of the time, do not hesitate to visit your child eye specialist. You may be saving him/ her from permanent blindness! We hope this answers your query – should I be worried about my child’s crossed eyes?
If you have any more questions on this, feel free to get in touch with Dr. Prachi Agashe at Agashe Paediatric SuperSpeciality Care in Kurla, Mumbai. Her training as a Paediatric Ophthalmologist and specialized fellowship in child and adult squint will definitely help your child’s crossed eyes get timely treatment. You can reach Dr. Agashe at 022 42435000 or email pictures of your child’s eyes at firstname.lastname@example.org