In some cases eye muscle surgery is necessary to straighten the eyes.
In children with some types of constant strabismus, early surgery may be recommended to improve the chance of restoring or promoting normal binocular vision.
In adults, eye alignment surgery is not strictly cosmetic. Eye alignment surgery restores normal appearance and is considered reconstructive. There are many other benefits beyond restoring normal appearance: improved depth perception or binocular vision, improved visual fields, eliminating or minimizing double vision and improved social function — as eye contact is hugely important in human communication.
During strabismus surgery, one or more of the eye muscles are strengthened, weakened or moved to a different position to improve alignment. Strabismus surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure and does not require an overnight hospital stay.
The strabismus surgery procedure
Strabismus surgery in children requires general anesthesia. In adults, the procedure can be done with general or local anesthesia. Either way, the patient must fast for about eight hours before the procedure.
The eye is never removed to perform the surgery. The eyelids are gently held open with a lid speculum. A small opening is made through the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane surface of the eye) to access the muscle. The muscle is then weakened, strengthened or moved to change its action with dissolvable sutures.
Any patient that has surgery, whether under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation, needs to be monitored after surgery. Children can return to school after two days. Adults should not drive the day of surgery or the day after and may need up to a week before returning to work. You may have double vision that can last hours to days or a week or more, rarely longer. Exercise caution with activities like driving if you have double vision. The main restriction after strabismus surgery is not swimming for two weeks.
Potential risks of strabismus surgery
The chance of any serious is exceedingly rare. However, there are risks with any surgery, including: Sore eyes; Redness; Residual misalignment; Double vision; Infection; Bleeding; Corneal abrasion; Decreased vision; Retinal detachment; Anesthesia-related complications.
How successful is strabismus surgery?
Strabismus surgery is a common procedure and most patients will see a large improvement in the alignment of their eyes after surgery. In some cases, you may need additional surgery or prism glasses to optimally align the eyes.