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Visible strabismus has been shown to have adverse psychosocial consequences. It remains controversial if esotropia or exotropia is perceived more negatively. The aim of this study was to determine if esotropia or exotropia and the eye (side) in which strabismus is present are perceived differently. We also asked our adult participants: (1) if they thought visible strabismus should be corrected by surgery, (2) if they thought that strabismus surgery should only be to improve the cosmesis, and (3) if they thought that the surgery should be paid for by health insurance.
One hundred adults and 61 children rated four photographs of a digitally altered picture of a boy and four of a girl, showing a large-angle esotropia or exotropia either in the left or on the right eye. The adults were additionally asked if a squint should be operated, if they considered strabismus surgery to be a cosmetic procedure, if in their opinion strabismus surgery should be covered by compulsory health insurance, and if children with strabismus are disadvantaged. Comparisons were performed using ANOVA and regression analysis.
Adults perceived a squinting right eye as more disturbing than a squinting left eye p < 0.001). The direction of strabismus, the age, gender, and the number of persons with a squint among family and friends of the respondents did not influence the perception of strabismus by adults (p > 0.1 for each). Children also found that a squinting right eye is more disturbing (p < 0.001) than a left one. Additionally, children ranked esotropia worse than exotropia (p < 0.001). Neither age nor gender had an impact on the perception of strabismus by children. Of the adults, 94% would recommend surgery for all forms of strabismus, 18% thought that surgery is only cosmetic, and 94% found that health insurance should cover strabismus surgery for everybody. Problems of squinting children named by the adults included: being made fun of by other children (53%), problems with eyesight (39%), people looking strangely at them (21%), less acceptance by peers (17%), less self confidence (6%), problems judging distances (4%), and that they are perceived as less intelligent (3%).
Adults and children rated a squinting right eye as worse compared to a left one. Children perceived esotropia as more disturbing than exotropia. Neither age, nor gender, nor the fact that the respondents have friends or family members with a squint, had an impact on this ranking. Almost all adults would correct all forms of strabismus, and think that surgery should be covered by compulsory health insurance.
Research Institute for Labour Economics and Labour Law, University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland.
This article was published in the following journal.
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