Eye Muscle Surgery to Treat Strabismus

Woman with strabismus

Are Your Eyes Misaligned? Eye Muscle Surgery May Offer the Perfect Solution

Eye muscle surgery can help improve your vision if you or your child have strabismus, a condition that affects the alignment of the eyes. Even a seemingly minor misalignment can cause vision problems that may make your life more difficult.

What Are the Symptoms of Strabismus?

Although it's commonly called "crossed eyes," strabismus actually refers to any misalignment of the eyes. The condition affects about 4 percent of people in the U.S., according to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

If you have strabismus, your eyes may be crossed, one eye may be higher or lower than the other, or one eye might turn inward or outward slightly more than the other.

Symptoms of strabismus can include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Poor depth perception
  • Difficulty reading
  • Tilting the head to see objects clearly

When strabismus occurs in children, the brain may eventually ignore the signals from one of the eyes, causing a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye).

What Causes Strabismus?

Strabismus can be caused by problems with the eye muscles but may also happen if the brain can't properly control the muscles.

Symptoms of strabismus are often noticeable during early childhood. Adults who have strabismus may have had the condition since they were children or might have developed it as a result of a stroke, head injury, damage to the eye muscles, diabetes, thyroid disease, or other diseases and conditions.

How Does Surgery Treat Strabismus?

Strabismus surgery may be recommended for both adults and children if eye exercises, prism eyeglass lenses, or Botox treatments aren't helpful in improving eye alignment. During surgery, your ophthalmologist tightens or loosens your eye muscles to change the alignment of your eyes. The outpatient procedure is performed under local or general anesthetic.

Your eye doctor will use one of these surgical techniques to perform strabismus surgery:

  • Recession: Recession is helpful if your eye muscle is too tight. The procedure involves detaching the muscle and reattaching it farther back on the eye with a suture (stitch). Relocating the muscle makes it a little weaker, which improves eye alignment.
  • Resection: A resection strengthens a weak eye muscle. During resection, a small part of the eye muscle is removed or folded over, then the shortened muscle is reattached to the eye with a suture.
  • Adjustable Suture: An adjustable suture procedure is only recommended for adults. During this procedure, your ophthalmologist reattaches your eye muscle with a slip-knot suture. After your surgery, your doctor can make small adjustments to the results by adjusting the knot.

What Happens After Strabismus Surgery?

Your eye will probably be red and feel a little sore after your surgery. It may also feel as if something is stuck in your eye. These symptoms will gradually improve over the next few days and weeks. Over-the-counter pain medication can help control pain. Most people can return to their normal activities just a few days after surgery.

You'll notice an improvement in eye alignment immediately after surgery, although it may take four to six weeks to see the permanent results, according to All About Vision. In some cases, a second or third surgery may be necessary to fine-tune the results.

Do you have strabismus? Surgery can help improve the alignment of your eyes, end double vision, and other symptoms. Contact our office to schedule an appointment to discuss treatment options.


American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus: Strabismus

American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Is Adult Strabismus?, 12/3/20

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus: Strabismus Surgery, 3/19

All About Vision: Strabismus Surgery

Medline Plus: Strabismus