My name is John Sloper

My name is John Sloper.

I'm a consultant
working at Moorfields Eye Hospital

and specialising in the treatment
of squints and children with lazy eyes.

A squint occurs when the two eyes
don't point in the same direction.

This means that the two eyes
see different things

and the brain can't combine the images
from the two eyes.

As a result of this
the brain ignores one eye

and the vision in that eye
can deteriorate,

and this is termed amblyopia.

Amblyopia is a very common problem,
affecting about one child in 20.

Squints can come on
in children at any age,

but commonly either in very small babies
between four and six months

or else at the age of two or three,

and it's important
up to about the age of seven,

because that's the age at which
it can affect the development of vision.

The main thing that parents notice

is that the two eyes are not pointing
in the same direction.

They can see this
when they look at the child.

Sometimes the eyes are like this all the
time, sometimes just some of the time.

A lazy eye is more difficult to diagnose

because it can also occur because
the focus in the two eyes is different,

and so the vision in one eye

Not uncommonly this is not detected
and can be a problem.

When we first see a child with a squint,

the immediate question is whether
the vision is good in both eyes.

The first line of treatment
for poor vision is usually glasses,

and once the child is used to glasses
then we may need to patch the good eye

to improve the vision in the poor eye.

This will result in good vision
in both eyes

in about 80 per cent of children
who we see.

When we treat a child with a squint,
we're aiming to achieve three things.

The first is to get good vision
in both eyes,

and that is usually achieved by patching
and can usually be done.

The second is to try
and make the eyes work together.

This we achieve
in a minority of children,

but can be very useful when we do it.

The third thing we can usually achieve
is to make the eyes look straight.

This is very important for the child
in interacting with their friends.

Squint surgery
is a little bit uncomfortable,

but the eyes usually settle down
pretty quickly

and children bounce back very quickly
from squint surgery.

When we achieve good vision in each eye,
this is usually permanent,

and if the eyes work together
this is normally long-lasting.

If the eyes don't work together,

then over a number of years,
often 20 or 30 years,

the affected eye may drift out again

and this can be corrected
with further squint surgery as an adult.

Most children are much happier
after squint surgery

and parents often comment

that things like their balance
and coordination are better.

Complications of squint surgery
are fortunately extremely rare.

Most squint surgery
is done as a day case.

The child comes into hospital
first thing in the morning,

has surgery during the morning

and is able to go home usually
during the course of the afternoon.

If you're concerned
that your child has a squint,

the first thing to do
is to consult your general practitioner.

They can then refer you

to an appropriate eye department
in an eye hospital.

Squints are a common problem and
a lot can be done to improve squints,

however it is important
that we see children with squints early

and the earlier we see them, the better
the results, in general, of treatment.