If you developed strabismus after an injury as an adult — or if you were born with it but it was left untreated — then your eye doctor will probably recommend surgery to correct it. Surgery for strabismus has come a long way in recent years, and it is generally safe and effective. Still, there are a few questions you'll probably want answered before you have the procedure performed.
What does the surgery actually involve?
For most patients with strabismus, corrective surgery means reattaching a muscle that has become disconnected from your eye. Attaching this muscle gives you control over that eye again once it heals. In order to access the muscle that needs to be reattached, your surgeon will need to make a small incision in the white part of your eye.
Will you be awake when the surgery is performed?
Unlike other common eye surgeries, like laser vision correction procedures, strabismus correction surgery is usually performed under anesthesia. This means you'll be fully asleep and unaware while the surgery is being performed. If you have a reason not to undergo general anesthesia, you may be able to have it done under sedation with a local anesthetic to numb your eye, but this doesn't tend to be the go-to method.
How painful is the recovery period?
Patients do experience some pain after strabismus surgery, but it can be managed with pain-relieving eye drops and by resting the eye. After the first day or two, most of the discomfort comes in the form of itchiness rather than actual pain. This is just a normal side effect of healing. You'll generally be told to wear an eye patch for one to two weeks post-surgery. This will protect your eye from damage during recovery.
Will your strabismus be completely healed after surgery?
For many patients, one surgery corrects their strabismus sufficiently. Some patients, however, do need to go in for a second procedure to further the connection between the eye muscle and their eye. You will know within a few months of your first surgery whether a second procedure is necessary. If it is, your surgeon will likely recommend waiting about a year before having another procedure. This way, your eye will be fully healed from the first surgery before the second one is performed.
If you have any other questions about strabismus surgery, be sure to ask your doctor. They can provide you with the most up-to-date and personalized information.