In squint, or strabismus, one of a person's eyes fails to point in the right direction. While the stronger eye looks at an object, the squint eye turns inward or outward. An optometrist or ophthalmologist might recommend a series of therapeutic eye exercises in order to correct squint. Squint can indicate a serious underlying problem that requires professional care.
Squint results when the muscles surrounding the eye are weak or compromised. Genetics or central nervous system disorders, like cerebral palsy, are common causes, according to A.R. Elkington and Peng T. Khaw, authors of a 1988 article in "BMJ." More serious causes of squint include impaired vision due to eye disease, including cataract or retinal cancer. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can determine if squint is an indication of eye disease.
Squint can lead to amblyopia, a condition in which the brain suppresses the information coming from the weak eye. Because of the deviation of the squint eye, double vision often results. In order to overcome double vision, the brain simply ceases to receive information from the eye causing the problem, according to Elkington and Khaw. Although there might be nothing wrong with the eye itself, the visual pathways do not develop properly in cases of amblyopia.
Looking at a light, matching letters and pictures, reading an eye chart and looking at visual targets with one eye covered are among the methods your optician or doctor are likely to use to diagnose squint. If it seems like you might have squint, an ophthalmologist or optometrist can help you confirm the diagnosis and cause. She will probably determine if you need glasses, and perform an exam on the retina and optic nerve to eliminate any possibility of disease, according to the National Health Service, UK. Once you have a diagnosis of squint, you will be able to choose a course of treatment that might include exercises.
Types of Exercises
Optometrists use two broad categories of exercises to treat squint, according to the Optometrists Network. Orthoptics focus on training the muscles surrounding the eye so that squint patients can move the weaker eye more effectively. After receiving instructions, you can do orthoptics exercises at home. Vision therapy is a more intensive process that involves retraining not only the eye muscles, but also working with the brain's ability to control eye alignment, focus, movements and information processing. Vision therapy is more effective than home-based exercises alone.
As of 2010, research is making promising new inroads into developing exercise methods to treat the sensory eye dominance that can result from squint. By suppressing the stronger eye during training, participants in a study performed at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University found that the ability of their eyes to work together improved significantly after a 10-day training period, according to HealthFinder, the website of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.