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Strabismus surgery or eye muscle surgery is a corrective treatment for eye misalignment (strabismus). Studies indicate that strabismus affects about 4% of the U.S. population.1
Due to muscle dysfunction, people with strabismus find it difficult to control their eyes. As a result, one eye may look directly at an object while the other may look in a different direction.
Risk factors include:2
Strabismus surgery entails loosening or tightening the eye muscles to restore proper alignment and muscle movement.3
Strabismus surgery treats several types of eye issues, based on the direction of misalignment. They include:
If left untreated, strabismus may reduce vision in one eye (amblyopia or lazy eye). It may also result in low self-esteem due to appearance issues.
Early strabismus diagnosis can prevent serious conditions such as brain tumors. A brain tumor can cause misalignment by interfering with the afferent and efferent visual pathways.4
Strabismus surgery is ideal for both children and adults with eye misalignment issues. You may qualify for strabismus surgery if you:
You will not qualify for strabismus surgery if you:
If you don't qualify for surgery, your doctor may recommend alternative options such as:
Below is what to expect before, during, and after strabismus surgery:
Before surgery, your eye doctor will conduct tests to determine your general health, eye health, and the best type of surgery to perform. If you qualify for the procedure, they will schedule you for surgery.
Your doctor might instruct you to stop using certain medications such as blood thinners and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory products (NSAIDs) at least one week before surgery.
Ask a friend or family member to drive you to your surgery, as your ability to drive may be affected for several days. Also, avoid eating or drinking several hours before surgery.5
Strabismus surgery is an outpatient procedure performed under general or local anesthesia, depending on the extent of the condition.
After sedation, the surgeon will hold your eyes open using an eyelid holder. Then they will make an incision in the conjunctiva to access and isolate the eye muscles. The conjunctiva is the eye's mucous membrane that covers the sclera (white of the eye).
The surgeon will either perform a muscle recession, a muscle resection procedure, or an adjustable suture procedure.
When the muscle is reattached to the eyewall, the surgeon uses a permanent knot instead of an adjustable suture. They may also use an adjustable suture technique that uses either a temporary bow knot or a slip knot.
The surgeon can make adjustments following surgery. They typically perform these adjustments under local anesthesia. The adjustable suture procedure is typically performed on adults.
After strabismus surgery, your sclera (white of the eye) may appear red. A return to normal can take weeks to months after surgery. During early recovery, you're likely to experience some pain and discomfort, which should clear up with time.
It's also advisable to see your doctor for follow-up care. During follow-up visits, your surgeon will evaluate the healing process and make any adjustments if necessary.
If your surgeon uses an adjustable suture, they might provide a protective patch to wear. They might also prescribe medications such as antibiotic eye drops or ointments to ease any discomfort and prevent infections.
Most people can resume normal activities after about 2 weeks. Always consult your eye doctor before resuming strenuous or risky activities such as contact sports or swimming.
If strabismus is caught early enough in children, it can restore vision and depth perception. It can also prevent vision loss.7
Common side effects of strabismus surgery include:
Some possible complications of strabismus eye surgery include:
You can minimize complications if your doctor thoroughly examines you before the surgery. You should also adhere to post-operative care practices to further reduce the risk.
Call your doctor if you notice the following after surgery:
Many people are misinformed about the risks and benefits of strabismus surgery. In most cases, the procedure is safe and effective.
About 80% of adult patients report satisfactory results after one surgical procedure.9 In addition, there is a low risk of serious complications.
Note: Strabismus may not correct vision. In many cases, success is defined by an improvement in appearance. However, most adults realize some improvement in binocular function after eye muscle surgery.10 Some people may regain stereopsis (depth perception).
People who do not have correct alignment after the first strabismus surgery might benefit from a second surgery. This usually happens after a few months to a few years after the outcomes from the first surgery have stabilized.
Strabismus surgery, or eye muscle surgery, corrects eye misalignment (strabismus). It involves loosening or tightening the eye muscles to restore proper alignment and muscle movement.
Strabismus surgery treats several types of eye issues such as:
The surgery occurs in an outpatient setting. It involves surgical detachment and reattachment of eye muscles that cause eye misalignment because they are either too weak or too tight.
Strabismus surgery is a safe and effective eye surgery, with about 80% of adult patients reporting positive results after one procedure.9 Strabismus surgery also has a low risk of serious complications.
People who do not have correct alignment after the first strabismus surgery might benefit from a second surgery a few months to a few years later.
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