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Is squint hereditary?

Q: I am a 30 years old woman into my sixth month of pregnancy. Can squint be detected during pregnancy? Is squint hereditary? My husband has squint in his left eye. My father in-law also has it and also suffers from diabetes. My sister-in-law also has squint in both her eyes. She has undergone squint correction surgery. Is there any chance of my baby to have squint?

A:Squint can be hereditary or familial but it cannot be detected during pregnancy and in theory it does not occur till at least after 3 months of age. Squint itself is not a disease but a sign & symptom of something more.

Did you know that all children are borne nearly or partly blind and vision starts to develop in response to light and even at 1 year of age it is equivalent to 6/60 or 1/10th of normal vision? Visual development process is not only eye but also brain. Any time during this development if vision is interrupted by refractive error (need for glasses) or any disease like cataract etc vision remains poor until this is corrected.

There is a window of opportunity till about the age of 3-5 years of age when vision can be improved if the defect is corrected. If the vision in one eye is poorer than the other eye then not only that develops into lazy (Amblyopia) eye and starts to squint because brain tends to ignore poorer of the two eyes.

This is why it is very important to check every child's vision as soon as possible after birth but latest by 3 years of age or if symptoms develop before that. If any problem is detected then glasses can be prescribed, affected eye is also forced to improve by patching the good eye for few hours a day or other cause of poor vision corrected under adequate supervision by adults and specialist's advice.

The poorer of the two eyes also starts to squint but can get better by glasses or other treatments alone and surgery for squint avoided. If the vision does not improve then even the squint operation may fail to correct in the long run.

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