What strabismus is, how it affects vision, recommendations for pupils with strabismus.
Strabismus is a common condition where the eyes do not look together in the same direction. Whilst one eye looks straight ahead, the other eye turns to point inwards, outwards, up or down. Squints are common and affect about 1 in 20 children. Most squints develop before preschool age, however sometimes they develop in older children or in adults.
Types of strabismus
There are different types of squint:
- esotropia: an eye that turns inwards
- exotropia: an eye that turns outwards
- hypertropia: an eye that turns upwards
- hypotropia: an eye that turns downwards
The squint may:
- be present all the time (constant)
- come and go (intermittent)
The affected eye may:
- turn when the eyes are open and being used (manifest squint)
- turn only when it’s covered or shut (latent squint), but look fine when the eyes are open
How strabismus affects vision
When the two eyes are not pointing in the same direction, the result is likely to be double and blurred vision.
To stop this happening, the brain naturally suppresses the image from the deviant eye and relies on the better eye.
This reduces the ability of one eye to see as sharply as the other and can lead to the development of a ‘lazy eye’ or amblyopia. This can lead to permanently reduced vision.
What can be done to help
Strabismus can be cosmetically corrected by surgery and may also restore some vision if done early enough. Glasses can help improve vision.
Recommendations for pupils with strabismus
It’s important to encourage children to wear and use their prescribed spectacles, contact lenses or low vision aids. This will make sure the vision parts of the brain grow and develop.
Students with strabismus may need:
- clearly presented curriculum materials with a good contrast between text and background and, possibly, enlarged or modified
- additional time to complete visually challenging tasks
- encouragement to use glasses, contact lenses and low vision aids
- their own copies of learning materials rather than sharing with a partner
- good levels of lighting, neither in bright sunlight nor semi darkness: the light source should come from behind the pupil and on to what is being viewed
- additional time for examinations