Medicine

Squint correction renews confidence

“I never liked looking at my own photograph until now,” says Ramesh Kumar. Be it obtaining a driver's licence, meeting a prospective bride or finding permanent employment, for the contract technician from Ariyalur, every milestone has been marred by his squint. But the 32-year-old is among the 20 persons, mostly children, who have found renewed confidence with the defect rectified under the Chief Minster's comprehensive health insurance scheme.

With the recent empanelment of Mahatma Gandhi Eye Hospital, that has been authorised to perform squint correction surgeries under the health insurance scheme, an average of one surgery is performed a day. The procedure was added in the new scheme. Squint or strabismus is the misalignment of eyes when both eyes point in different directions. While one may be focussed straight, the other may look inward, outward, upward or downward.

Nine-year-old Krishnaveni, the daughter of a labourer from Kolarpatti near Nagamangalam was often in tears after school being teased as ‘orakannu' by classmates. Though some persons with squint may have low self-esteem, squint correction is not merely a cosmetic surgery. “Squint correction is important to restore binocular vision,” says Ramesh, paediatric ophthalmologist at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital. While an object is viewed simultaneously by one eye, the brain suppresses one image in persons with squint.

“There may be no major visual problem, but squint is a major cause of lazy eye or ambylopia which may lead to permanent loss of vision in one eye.” Besides, there are chances of total vision loss if the good eye is injured.

Though educated classes report paediatric vision related problems, lower socio-economic groups often ignore the problem until the question of a marriage or technical job arises. In the case of Ramesh Kumar, coughing up Rs.10,000- 30,000 for a surgery when there was no substantial eye defect except blurred vision, was out of the question.

Squint is also wrongly associated with good luck as father of eight year old Brinda from Ayyampalayam near Manachanallur agrees. Initially hesitant to opt for treatment, he agreed after advised strongly at a school eye camp. “Earlier the squint is treated, the better as eight is the age of visual maturity after which efficiency of surgery may be reduced,” says Dr.Ramesh.

Not all persons with squint need surgical correction, as certain squints can be corrected with eye co-ordiantion exercises or prescription of glasses.

“Evaluation to detect the angle of deviation precisely is key in squint surgery. If children don't co-operate and there are minor disturbances, things may go haywire,” says Dr.Ramesh. Vision correction may be required subsequent to surgery and regular monitoring and vision testing are the norm till 18.

“With recent surgical advancement, squint can be corrected even in infants less than six months.”

Chances of premature babies and children born out of marriages between blood relations developing squint is relatively higher, says Dr.Ramesh cautioning those with family history of optical problems to stay alert.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 11:56:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/medicine-and-research/squint-correction-renews-confidence/article3433513.ece

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