Squinting is the act of partially closing one or both eyes to improve focus and visual clarity. Although it can be a temporary and harmless solution in certain situations, frequent squinting can also signal an underlying eye condition that needs urgent attention. Squinting also describes strabismus (crossed eyes), which often affects children.
Learn more about the causes and symptoms of squinting below, and remember to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor such as Peak Eyecare Optometry in Santa Clarita if you or your child is squinting or experiencing other eye problems.
Causes of Squinting
Squinting can be caused by various factors, including:
- Refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
- Strabismus (eye turn)
- Eye strain caused by digital devices or reading
- Glare or bright light
- Dry eye
- Lazy eye (amblyopia)
- Brain injury or neurological disorders
Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a refractive error that results in near objects appearing sharp while distant objects appear blurry. This can lead to the need to squint in order to bring far objects into focus.
Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, causes nearby objects to appear blurry while distant objects are clear. This often leads to eye strain and discomfort, in addition to frequentl squinting in an attempt to improve focus and visual clarity.
In the case of both nearsightedness and farsightedness, the eye's ability to focus light properly onto the retina is impaired, which can lead to blurred vision. Squinting can help to adjust the amount of light entering the eye and therefore improve focus and clarity.
While some cases of squinting may be temporary or mild, others can be serious and require immediate attention.
Other Causes of Squinting
The main cause of squinting is a misalignment of the eyes, which can occur due to a variety of factors, such as strabismus, which is caused by weak and imbalanced eye muscles. Other causes of squinting include neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy or brain injury, and certain genetic disorders.
Strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes, is a visual condition caused by the eyes not aligning properly. One eye may look straight ahead while the other eye is turned in a different direction. This misalignment results in double vision or blurry vision, leading to the need to squint.
Symptoms of Squinting
Frequent squinting can also lead to various symptoms, including:
- Eye strain and fatigue
- Strained facial expression
- Poor concentration and productivity
- Low self-esteem or self-consciousness
Children with strabismus may experience double vision, difficulty with depth perception, poor eye coordination, and squinting while looking at nearby objects.
If you or your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near you to determine the underlying cause.
Treatment for Squinting
The treatment for squinting depends on the underlying cause. Refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness can be easily treated with glasses or contact to alleviate squinting and improve vision. More serious eye conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed eyes) can be treated using vision therapy or surgery, depending on the eye doctor’s recommendations.
If your eye doctor recommends glasses or other forms of vision correction, the optical at Peak Eyecare Optometry has an extensive range of eyewear to suit various visual needs, personal styles, and activities. We’d be happy to help you select the best frames and lenses for your condition.
Contact Lenses as a Solution
If you or your child has been squinting due to nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, contact lenses may be a comfortable and convenient solution for you. With advancements in technology, there are now many options available, including daily disposable lenses, extended wear lenses, and multifocal lenses.
However, if an individual’s squinting is caused by underlying conditions such as strabismus and amblyopia, then contact lenses may not be a sufficient solution as they only correct refractive errors and don’t address the underlying muscle imbalance that causes the eyes to be misaligned. This is because these eye conditions are often caused by a deficiency in the brain's ability to process visual information from the eyes.
Make sure you consult with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam and proper diagnosis to determine the best course of treatment for your specific eye condition.
Regular Eye Exams with an Eye Doctor Near You
If you or your child has been experiencing frequent squinting, contact Peak Eyecare Optometry in Santa Clarita to schedule an appointment and explore treatment options.
1. Is squinting always a sign of a vision problem?
Not necessarily. Squinting can also be a natural reaction to bright light, fatigue, or a temporary condition such as a headache.
2. Can squinting cause permanent damage to my eyes?
Squinting itself is unlikely to cause permanent damage to your eyes, but it may be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires treatment.