What are the surgery options for eyes that are turned in or out?
Normally, the eyes and the muscles around the eyes work together to ensure your vision is focused in the same direction at all times. However, some issues can arise when one eye does not follow the same direction as the other, which can cause changes in your vision. These are known as alignment issues, as the eyes are not able to work together to focus on the same spot or direction and one may operate independently of the other.
This can be a frustrating problem to deal with, and it can also cause safety concerns. This type of vision problem is also a challenge in carrying out everyday tasks and activities. The scientific name for eyes turned in different directions is strabismus. It is characterised by a visible misalignment of the eyes. One eye will look in the desired direction while the other looks inward (esotropia), outward (exotropia), up (hypertropia) or down (hypotropia). Because of the problems with misalignment, the brain will begin to rely more on visual signals from the unaffected eye. Over time, this can cause the vision in the weaker eye to decrease, and this condition is known as amblyopia or lazy eye.
Surgical options to correct a turn in one eye
A surgical procedure can be carried out to correct the problem of misaligned eyes and support better vision. Your optometrist will examine your eyes first and then if needed, will transfer you to an eye surgeon for further consultation. Strabismus surgery works by repositioning the muscles around one or both eyes in order to ensure they work together. The surgeon can detach the relevant eye muscle and reattach it in a different spot on the eye to strengthen its function, or reduce the strength of an opposing eye muscle to achieve more balance and eliminate the strabismus. This is one option for treatment of the condition.
However, you will need to see a qualified optometrist for advice as with all surgical procedures, it is best to be fully informed of the advantages and disadvantages for you. The surgery for strabismus can carry risks. The operation may be unsuccessful at restoring proper vision, or it may only be partially successful. The surgery tends to be more difficult the more complex your strabismus is.
A successful surgical procedure can have many benefits, including improving the visual field and supporting better binocular vision. However, it is up to you to make the final decision for your eye health based on information from your optometrist and/or GP.
The right age for undergoing strabismus surgery is debatable, as it depends on each individual's experience of the condition. Some types will require early intervention, but in most cases you will be encouraged to take your time and come to your own decision in due course .
Can anything be done non-surgically?
Surgery isn't the only treatment option for strabismus. Your optometrist may recommend other solutions such as patching, which involves covering the stronger eye so the brain can get used to accepting the visual signals coming from the weaker eye. Eye exercises may also be recommended to strengthen the alignment of the eyes, although this may not be as effective as other treatments. To find out more about non-surgical options for strabismus, talk to your optometrist.
Eye still turns out after surgery
Sometimes it takes a few extra weeks for the effects of the surgery to manifest, during which time your eye may still exhibit a turn out or in. If it doesn't correct itself or you become concerned for any reason, make sure to talk to your optometrist.
Diplopia and eye surgery
Diplopia is the scientific term for double vision, which is also caused by a misalignment of the eyes. This makes people see duplicate images of the same object, and the eyes can appear to be crossed. If it is caused by an alignment issue rather than a refractive error (where light rays reflected from the object are split into two by your eyes), surgery can be undertaken to reposition the eyes correctly.Otherwise, eye patching, eye exercise and prisms (a type of corrective design on eyeglass lenses) can also help to eliminate the double vision.