Children who have a squint, commonly known as a lazy eye, might find it difficult to make friends. Children start to notice differences in appearance at age 6, a study has found.
The study showed 100 children of various ages a picture of twins, one of whom had a squint. They were then asked which twin they would invite to their birthday. Older children repeatedly chose the twin without the squint. The researchers pinpointed the age that children began to notice and discriminate against the difference at 6 years.
Around one in 20 children has a lazy eye. It happens as one eye is turned to the side while the other looks forwards. The brain doesn’t learn to use both eyes and one may become dominant.
Squints can be corrected but experts say this study may indicate it’s worth leaving an operation until later as young children are not aware of their difference.
“What is interesting about this study is that it sets down the age which their peers become conscious of difference,” said John Lee, president of the Royal College of Opthamologists. “We don’t need to worry too much about children not getting birthday invitations, but we should still be aware that there can be a very real prejudice,” he added.