What is strabismus?
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned, perhaps more commonly referred to as "crossed eyes". While not always related, this condition may be due to or caused by amblyopia (also known as “lazy eye”), which has the potential to significantly decrease vision. This condition is common in children and often requires surgery to correct. Thankfully, the doctors here at SAO are well experienced in performing strabismus surgery on both children and adults.
Why does strabismus occur?
Eye position is controlled by six muscles, called extraocular muscles, which surround the eye. Strabismus is most often caused by one or more of these muscles pulling either too hard or not hard enough. While one eye gazes straight ahead, the other may point inward, outward, up or down. Strabismus is commonly congenital, or develops in young children, though it may develop in adulthood as well. It is often hereditary.
What are the symptoms of strabismus?
The most common symptoms of strabismus include:
Eyes pointing in different directions.
Weakened depth perception.
Double vision, particularly in adults.
Strabismus is often visually evident (by the misalignment of the eyes), and sometimes is noticed by a parent before diagnosed by a physician. Some types, however, are very difficult to identify. There are also cases of pseudostrabismus, in which an infant or toddler appears to have inwardly-crossing eyes, but is actually exhibiting incomplete facial development; this requires no treatment, and remedies itself with further growth.
If strabismus goes untreated in children, it often develops into amblyopia (lazy eye), in which the brain ignores images coming from the weak eye, rendering a person effectively blind in one eye. For this reason, all children should be checked by a physician for strabismus by age three or four. Children with a family history of the condition should be examined even earlier.
How is strabismus treated?
Corrective lenses are a common initial treatment and sometimes glasses alone will be effective. More often than not however, surgery is necessary to correct strabismus. Surgery involves adjusting the extraocular muscles in one or both eyes so that the eyes point in the same direction. Strabismus surgery is generally a safe and common procedure, and is often the only way to effectively treat the disorder.
What is the procedure like?
Strabismus surgery deals with strengthening or weakening the muscles in one or both eyes in order to align the eyes. Strengthening the eye involves removing a section of the muscle or tendon in the eye; this is known as a resection. A recession is when the eye muscle is relaxed by removal and reattachment of the muscle further back on the eye. Both types of surgery require a small incision on the clear tissue covering the eye, known as the conjunctiva. The surgery typically take 1-2 hours and requires either general or local anesthesia.
What is the recovery process like?
After surgery, patients can expect a red and somewhat sore eye: this is normal! Redness may last up to two weeks, but patients can expect to return to their normal daily activities in just a few days. Muscle repair surgeries are common and have a high success rate for realigning the eyes and promoting binocular vision.