Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Correcting a squint (child)

3-minute read

What is strabismus?

Strabismus (or ‘squint’) is where one of the eyes points in towards the nose (convergent) or out towards the ear (divergent). Sometimes one eye may point up or down.

How does strabismus happen?

Strabismus in children is usually related to how their eyes focus. The condition often runs in the family and affects 1 in 50 children under 5 years old.

Strabismus can also happen if the nerves to the eye muscles, or the eye muscles themselves, are not working properly.

Illustration showing the muscles of an eye.
The muscles of the eye.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your child’s eyes should appear to move together. If your child had a divergent squint, their binocular vision may improve.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Glasses or contact lenses can help the eyes to focus.

If one eye is 'lazy', placing a patch on the good eye can train the affected eye to work so that vision develops normally in both eyes.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about an hour.

Depending on the type of squint your child has, your surgeon will need to tighten or loosen one or more of the eye muscles.

Your surgeon will make a small cut on the surface membrane of the eye (conjunctiva). They will separate one or more eye muscles from the surface of the eyeball. Using small dissolvable stitches, your surgeon will reattach the muscles, making them tighter or looser than they were before, depending on the correction that needs to be made.

How can I prepare my child for the operation?

Your child should try to maintain a healthy weight. They will have a higher risk of developing complications if they are overweight.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication

Specific complications of this operation

  • continued strabismus
  • worse strabismus
  • double vision, in children over the age of 5
  • a slipped or lost eye muscle, muscle scarring or making a hole in the eye with a needle

Consequences of this procedure

  • pain

How soon will my child recover?

They should be able to go home after a few hours.

Your surgeon will tell you when your child can return to normal activities. Your child should not swim or do strenuous exercise until you have checked with your surgeon.

Most children make a good recovery.


Strabismus surgery should make your child’s eyes point in the same direction. Sometimes the operation gives better long-term results the earlier it is performed.


The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright ©

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Squint or strabismus: children & teens | Raising Children Network

Children with a squint have eyes that seem to look in different directions. Squints needs treatment, so start by taking your child to a GP or optometrist.

Read more on website

Amblyopia (lazy eye) -

Amblyopia is a common cause of reduced vision in children, sometimes known as 'lazy eye'. Usually one eye is affected, but sometimes both.

Read more on myDr website

Ophthalmologist: parents & kids guide | Raising Children Network

An ophthalmologist can help your child if your child has had an injury to his eyes or it looks like he has an eye problem or eye disease. Find out more.

Read more on website

Glossary of Eye Conditions | Fred Hollows Foundation

Glaucoma, Cataract and Trachoma are just a few examples of many eye conditions and diseases that exist worldwide. Learn more with a list of common eye conditions and terms.

Read more on Fred Hollows Foundation website

Lazy eye or amblyopia: babies & children | Raising Children Network

Children with lazy eye (amblyopia) can’t see properly or at all out of one eye. Early detection and treatment can often fix lazy eye and prevent vision loss.

Read more on website

Eye examinations (visual field testing) | myVMC

Eye examinations: Visual field testing is the process of having the eyes examined for visual field defects or for monitoring changes in vision.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Eyes - Your baby’s eyes | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

The eye Light enters the eye through the cornea, the clear outer skin or window at the front of the eye

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Short-sightedness - Better Health Channel

If you are short-sighted, you will have trouble seeing objects clearly in the distance and they will appear blurry.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Blepharospasm - Better Health Channel

Blepharospasm means involuntary twitching, blinking, closure or squeezing of the eyelids.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Blepharospasm - Brain Disorders A-Z - Brain Foundation Australia

Blepharospasm is a non-fatal, progressive neurological disorder involving involuntary muscle contractions & spasms of the eyelid muscles.

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.