Eye Muscle Surgery

Dr. Burke is one of Cincinnati’s most trusted resources concerning eye muscle surgery.

What do I need to know about strabismus (eye muscle) surgery?

Eye muscle surgery is performed in an attempt to correct an abnormal eye alignment (strabismus). Even though eye muscle surgery typically requires a general anesthetic, most people are able to return home within hours after the surgery is completed. During the surgery, the eyelids are held open with a speculum and the eye is gently rotated to bring the muscles into the surgeon’s view. Incisions are made on the superficial tissues of the eye, the conjunctiva. It is through these openings that the muscles are operated. Eyes muscles are repositioned during the surgery. It may be necessary to perform surgery on one or both eyes. The eye muscles are reattached to the globe with sutures that absorb within 6-7 weeks. The conjunctiva is also sutured closed and the stitches will be absorbed within the first 2 weeks. Recovery time is rapid. People are usually able to resume most of their normal activities within a week. Strabismus surgery is usually a safe and effective treatment for eye misalignment problems.

Is the eye removed during strabismus surgery?

The eyeball is never removed from the socket during any kind of eye muscle surgery.

Are there are risks to eye muscle surgery?

The most common issues postoperatively are residual misalignment (that may or may not require additional surgery) and double vision (almost always only temporary). As with any surgery, eye muscle surgery has certain health and eye risks. These include infection, bleeding, excessive eye tissue scarring, and other extremely rare complications that could lead to the loss of vision.

How many surgeries will it take to straighten the eyes?

About 8 out of 10 patient’s achieved good eye alignment initially after surgery. Sometimes, however, the result is too little (an undercorrection) or too much (and overcorrection). If either of these were significant, this may be cause for a reoperation in a short time after the procedure. There are other times that the initial good eye alignment may begin to wander again many months or even years after the procedure. Over a lifetime, about 40% of patients require 2 or more eye muscle surgeries.

How common is eye muscle surgery?

Over 250,000 patients undergo eye muscle surgery every year in the United States. The overwhelming majority of these patients do very well.

What should I expect after eye muscle surgery?

It is normal for the white part of the eye to be red after surgery. It usually takes several weeks for the redness to disappear. Significant pain is unusual. Most pain, soreness, and foreign-body sensation improves within a few days. Postoperative eyedrops and ointment will need to be placed in the operated upon eye(s) for one week after surgery.

Are there any restrictions after surgery?

Normally there are no postoperative activity restrictions except no pool swimming, no contact lenses, and no eyelid or eyelash cosmetics for 2 weeks after surgery.

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