Squinting Eyes

Squinting is the action of narrowing your eyes, usually in an attempt to see better. The term "squint" is also used to describe an eye condition called strabismus (also known as cross-eyes).

This article discusses symptoms that may occur when you squint your eyes, common causes, and treatment options.

Girl squinting at her computer.

Mayur Kakade / Getty Images

Symptoms of Squinting Eyes

On its own, squinting your eyes can be a symptom of your need for vision correction. Other symptoms may occur when you regularly squint your eyes, including:

  • Eye strain, particularly at the end of the day
  • Feeling as if you can't see well (you may notice this more in specific situations, such as looking at objects close up or far away)
  • Headaches

If you have a child with strabismus, you may notice the following symptoms that indicate the condition:

  • Eyes that don't align
  • Complaints of double vision
  • Blinking or squinting while looking at objects
  • Noticing that the eyes don't move together


The most common causes of squinting eyes include strabismus, farsightedness, and nearsightedness. Other causes for squinting eyes may include presbyopia (blurry near vision) and astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea).


Strabismus (cross-eyes) involves an abnormality in eye movement, which can sometimes prevent them from looking in the same direction. The abnormality is typically due to problems with the eye muscles, the nerves connected to the eye, or how the brain manages eye movements.

Strabismus is more common in children than adults, and its cause isn't always straightforward. Sometimes, it can be associated with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or premature birth.


Farsightedness (hyperopia) means you have trouble seeing things that are up close but have no problem seeing objects in the distance. Although you may be born with farsightedness, you may not know that you have it until symptoms develop later in life. It's also more likely to occur if you have close family members who are farsighted.


Nearsightedness (myopia) makes it difficult to see objects far away, while vision remains good for objects up close. You may inherit nearsightedness from a family member, but your symptoms may not be apparent until late in childhood. Many times, nearsightedness is discovered in children between 8 and 12 years old.

Refractive Errors

Farsightedness and nearsightedness are both types of refractive errors (instances in which the eye can't properly focus). Refractive errors occur when your eye shape prevents light from focusing as it should on your retina, located in the back of the eye.

How to Treat Squinting Eyes

The treatment for eye squinting will depend on the cause.

If an eye doctor, such as an ophthalmologist, diagnoses strabismus, your treatments may include:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Prism lenses (these change how light enters the eye, helping to align image(s) so that the eye(s) see one object)
  • Patching of a weaker eye to help make it stronger
  • Eye exercises to assist both eyes in turning inward
  • Eye muscle surgery to alter the eye muscles

For farsightedness and nearsightedness, an eye exam may reveal the need for an updated or new glasses or contact lens prescription.

Ophthalmologists also can correct farsightedness and nearsightedness with refractive surgery. These surgeries often aim to change the shape of your cornea to help you see better. Some common types of refractive surgery include:

  • Laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) (reshapes the cornea beneath a flap that is cut into the tissue)
  • Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) (reshapes the cornea beneath its very thin surface layer)
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) (ideal for people with a scarred, thin, or irregularly shaped cornea) 

Are There Tests to Diagnose the Cause of Squinting Eyes?

An eye doctor can give you a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your vision, check your eyes' overall health, and help determine why you squint.

The eye doctor will use specific tests, such as alignment and focusing tests, to evaluate you for strabismus. These help show how your eyes focus and work together.

While examining your eyes for strabismus, the eye doctor can also check whether eye disease is a contributing factor.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you find yourself squinting more often to see the world around you, setting an appointment with an eye doctor is a good idea. This is especially important if you have other vision-related symptoms, such as headaches or eye strain.

If you have a child who has trouble seeing, complains of double vision, or appears cross-eyed, seek help from a pediatrician or eye doctor. They can evaluate for causes of these vision issues, including strabismus. It's possible that vision problems from strabismus can cause trouble in school.


It's common to squint your eyes when you need to see better, such as to read something close up or look at something far away. Squinting in these situations may indicate farsightedness, nearsightedness, or another vision problem.

Strabismus, also called squint, is a vision issue due to the misalignment of the eyes; it is more common in children than adults.

An eye exam can help pinpoint why you're squinting. Common treatments include eyeglasses and contact lenses. Surgery also can correct strabismus, farsightedness, or nearsightedness when needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will squinting damage my vision?

    No, squinting will not hurt your vision. However, it may indicate the need for vision correction, such as glasses or contact lenses.

  • What are some of the reasons I am squinting my eyes?

    Some common causes of squinting the eyes include farsightedness (hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia), presbyopia (blurry near vision), and astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea).

  • What are some ways to stop squinting my eyes?

    Wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses can help you stop squinting your eyes. To determine your need for corrective lenses, set an appointment with an eye doctor for an eye exam.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Nearsightedness: what is myopia?

  2. American Optometric Association. Strabismus (crossed eyes).

  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Strabismus in children.

  4. National Eye Institute. Farsightedness (hyperopia).

  5. National Eye Institute. Refractive errors.

  6. University of Florida Health. Strabismus.

By Vanessa Caceres
Vanessa Caceres is a nationally published health journalist with over 15 years of experience covering medical topics including eye health, cardiology, and more.