Diagnosing a squint 

Squints are often detected in children during routine eye checks.

These are usually carried out:

  • at birth or by the time your baby is 14 days old
  • at around six to eight weeks of age
  • before your child starts primary school or during their first year

However, if any of these checks don't happen or if you're concerned about your child's vision, speak to your GP. After an initial assessment, you may be referred to an eye specialist.

Three types of eyecare professionals may be involved in caring for a squint:

  • optometrists  who carry out sight tests, prescribe glasses, and can also detect eye conditions
  • orthoptists  who are specially trained to assess problems relating to eye movements and how the eyes work together
  • ophthalmologists  who specialise in eye conditions, their treatments and carry out any necessary surgery

Sight tests

Different tests can be used to help diagnose a squint and assess the level of vision. These will vary according to your age, but may include:

  • looking at a light
  • matching letters and pictures
  • reading a letter chart
  • looking at visual targets at different distances, first with one eye covered and then the other

Other tests may also be needed to determine whether glasses are needed.

The retina and the optic nerve will also be examined to make sure there are no other problems.

In most cases, eye drops will be used to widen the pupils before the eyes are examined. This makes it easier for the ophthalmologist to study the back of the eyes.

Sight tests are free for children under 16 years of age. Find opticians in your local area.

Read more about children's eyecare services.

Page last reviewed: 21/01/2015

Next review due: 21/01/2017