Help, my baby has a squint!
In the first months of life, babies sometimes squint. For many parents, this comes as a shock. In our health tip, we explain why squinting can occur in babies and when it makes sense to contact a paediatrician.
Darling, our baby has a squint! A parent making this statement has very real concerns. You don't want your child to be disadvantaged or even teased in later life.
Why do so many babies squint?Squinting is caused by the fact that the baby's brain is not yet able to coordinate both eyes and by the baby's inability to fix on objects using the centre of the retina. "Binocular vision and fixation is relatively strenuous for the eye muscles at the beginning. That's why babies may squint when they are very tired or very relaxed – after breastfeeding, for example," explains Dr Silke Schmitt Oggier, paediatrician and Medical Director at santé24. If a squint is apparent in these situations (especially inwards towards the nose), but the baby otherwise fixates well with both eyes and follows the gaze, this is probably quite normal in the first months of life.
When do you need to see a doctor?However, in babies with special risks (e.g. a history of squinting in the family, prematurity or developmental abnormalities), any sign of squinting should be taken seriously and looked into. Sometimes photos which produce a flash reflex in the pupils will show whether the reflex is the same on both sides or occurs in different places. If there is a noticeable difference, you should ask your doctor about it.
Binocular vision and fixation is relatively strenuous for the eye muscles at the beginning. That's why babies may squint when they are very tired or very relaxed – after breastfeeding, for example. Dr Silke Schmitt Oggier, paediatrician and Medical Director at santé24
Possible complications and therapyIf a child has a squint, two different images are created in the brain that do not fit together and cannot be put together to form one picture. The brain copes simply by switching off one image and using only the image from the eye that is currently seeing. If the squinting eye is not used, its vision gets worse and worse.
It is possible to treat a squinting eye. Part of the treatment consists of specific spectacle correction. The other is to train the squinting eye. This is possible, for example, by taping off the healthy eye or temporarily blurring the vision with special eye drops. This means that the squinting eye has to be used and will therefore retain or even regain its vision. However, this kind of treatment can take several years until the visual acuity of the weaker eye has improved sufficiently. Any remaining squint angle can then be corrected surgically.
santé24 – your Swiss telemedicine serviceMedical help around the clock: The doctors and medical specialists at santé24 are there for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to answer questions relating to prevention, illness, accident and maternity. Advice is free of charge to SWICA customers.
In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.