What Is Eye Muscle Repair Surgery?
Eye muscle repair surgery is a
procedure that corrects a muscle imbalance in the eyes. The muscle imbalance
causes the eyes to cross inward or outward. This condition is known as strabismus.
People with strabismus
have eyes that don’t line up properly. As a result, the eyes look in different
directions. It’s important to treat strabismus as early as possible to avoid lifelong
vision problems. In fact, vision loss could become a permanent disability if
treatment isn’t received promptly.
Eye muscle repair surgery helps
realign the eyes so that both point in the same direction. This procedure is
most often performed on children with strabismus, but it may also be done to
help adults with eye muscle problems.
Some people successfully overcome
strabismus by doing eye exercises or by wearing eyeglasses. Eye muscle repair
surgery is a solution for those who don’t show improvement through nonsurgical
How Do I Prepare for Eye Muscle Repair
You will undergo a complete physical
and eye examination before eye muscle repair surgery. The doctor will take note
of any prior treatments used to fix your eye muscle problems. They will also
take eye measurements and determine which muscles are weaker or stronger than
they should be.
About seven to 10 days before your
surgery, you will need to stop taking medications that can increase your risk
of bleeding. Medicines in this category may include:
Make sure you tell your doctor about
any other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or supplements you
may be taking.
Fasting before the surgery is often
required to avoid adverse reactions to the anesthesia, such as nausea and
vomiting. Your doctor will let you know when to have your last meal, based on
the time of your surgery.
Children usually undergo eye muscle
repair surgery with a general anesthetic. This puts them to sleep throughout
the procedure so they don’t feel any pain. Adults who need eye muscle repair
are generally treated with a local anesthetic that numbs the eye.
What Can I Expect During Eye Muscle Repair
The surgeon will make a small incision
in the clear membrane that covers the white of your eye. This membrane is known
as the conjunctiva. Once the surgeon has access to the eye muscles,
they will either shorten or stretch them as needed to properly realign your
eye. The entire procedure takes about 90 minutes.
To shorten and strengthen the muscles,
the surgeon will remove a section of the muscles or a nearby tendon. This
process is called a resection. When the muscles need
to be weakened, they are stretched and reattached to a point farther back in
your eye. This is known as a recession.
Some people with strabismus require
surgery in only one eye, while others may need to repair both eyes. One or more
muscles in the eyes can be repaired during the same surgical procedure.
What Are the Risks of Eye Muscle Repair
Excessive bleeding and infection are
possible risks of any type of surgery. You can reduce your risk for heavy
bleeding by following your doctor’s instructions regarding blood-thinning
medications before the procedure. Keeping your incisions dry and clean will
also help prevent an infection from occurring after surgery.
In rare cases, eye muscle repair
surgery can cause double vision and eye damage.
What Happens After Eye Muscle Repair
Eye muscle repair surgery is usually
an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day as the
surgery. Your eyes will probably feel scratchy and painful for several days
after the surgery, but it’s important to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
Keeping the eyes free of dirt and other irritants is of the utmost importance
to prevent infection. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or
ointments as a precautionary measure.
You will need to meet with your doctor
about one to two weeks after your eye muscle repair surgery. By this point, you
should feel more comfortable and your eyes should look normal.
In some cases, follow-up treatment may
still be required for vision problems, as strabismus can lead to impaired
vision in some people. Even though the eye muscles are corrected surgically,
vision loss can remain. You will still need to continue wearing eyeglasses and
contacts for vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or
Children who have poor vision as a
result of strabismus may need to continue wearing an eye patch following eye
muscle repair surgery. The length of time it must be worn depends on the
severity of the condition. Eye patches are used when one weak eye leads to
crossing. Patching the strong eye, even after surgery, helps stimulate the
weaker eye. The patch also helps a child’s brain develop more fully in the area
that manages vision. Your child may need to wear an eye patch for at least two
hours per day to strengthen a weak eye.