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All About Eye Muscle Surgery

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Strabismus is a condition that makes the affected person unable to align both eyes simultaneously. Commonly referred to as cross-eye, strabismus may cause the eye to turn in, out, up, or down.
Eye turns as a result of strabismus may be constant or intermittent. Most commonly found in children, strabismus does not go away on its own.

Is Surgery The Only Option?

There are many treatment options for strabismus available to patients. However, the outcomes vary considerably based on the type of strabismus present in the patient, as well as other factors.
Types of strabismus are classified by the direction of eye turns and angle of deviations. The presence of double vision, amblyopia, and convergence insufficiency are also factors affecting treatment options.

Eye Muscle Surgery

Because strabismus is most commonly caused by a neurological or anatomical problem with the eye muscles, eye muscle surgery is performed to treat strabismus.
The surgery works by cutting and moving the eye muscles back into position in order to correct the patients strabismus. The surgery fixes visual appearance, but, does not necessarily improve eyesight or vision.

Who is Eligible For The Surgery?

Age is a major factor on whether or not the surgery is appropriate for you. Early occurring constant strabismus in children is a type of strabismus that might require early surgery in order to eliminate the eye turn.
Regardless, it is important to speak with your doctor in order to determine whether or not the surgery is right for you. Eligibility for the surgery depends on the diagnosis of your condition.

Success Rates

Studies have reported that 30%-80% of eye muscle surgeries are successful.1 As you can see, this is a very wide range.
Keep in mind, though, that the success rate is based on the need for repeat surgery. With eye muscle surgery is it common to require repeat surgery as it only fixes the muscles, not the brain or the signals it sends to the eye.
As a result, it is possible for the patient’s eye(s) to return back to their previous state after surgery.

Determining The Number of Surgeries

As previously stated, it is common for repeat surgery to be necessary in order to effectively treat strabismus. Knowing this, it is important you ask the surgeon who recommended the surgery to give you an estimate on how many will be required.
It is common that good visual appearance is not achieved until two or three eye muscle surgeries.

Restoring Perfect Vision

Keep in mind that normal vision can not be achieved until the two eyes are perfectly straight. Again, if your two eyes are almost straight, but not perfectly straight, they will continue to not work together.

Alternative Methods

Vision therapy is available to those who do not wish to undergo multiple eye muscle surgeries before achieving perfect results.
Vision therapy works like physical therapy to teach the visual system to correct itself. It should be noted that this method of treatment is not always a suitable treatment option.

Written by Jennifer Sanchez

Dr. Jennifer Sanchez was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. She completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary and Doctor of Optometry Degree, with honours, at Southern California College of Optometry. Dr. Sanchez worked alongside optometrists at American Veteran Affairs Hospitals and Indian Health Services, and practiced co-management with ophthalmologists specializing in refractive and cataract surgery through clinical externship.
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