Strabismus, sometimes known as “squint” or “misalignment of the eyes,” is a disorder in which the line of sight of one eye is not aligned normally with the line of sight of the other eye. Surgery is performed on the eye muscles in order to properly adjust the way these muscles rotate the eyes.
- You’ll attend a pre-operative assessment – some simple tests will be done to check that you can have the operation and you’ll have the chance to ask any questions about it
- You’ll be told when to come into hospital for the procedure and when you should stop eating and drinking beforehand
- You’ll need to sort out how you’ll be getting home – you can usually go home the same day, ideally with a friend or family member to escort you (as you may be sleepy); you won’t be able to drive for at least a day or two if you’ve had surgery
Squint surgery is done under general anaesthetic (where you’re asleep) and usually takes less than an hour. You or your child can usually go home the same day.
If your child is having surgery, you’ll be able to accompany them into the operating room and stay with them until they’ve been given the anaesthetic.
During the procedure:
- The eye is held open using an instrument called a lid speculum – sometimes it may be necessary to operate on both eyes to get the alignment right
- The surgeon detaches part of the muscle connected to the eye and moves it into a new position so that the eyes point in the same direction
- The muscles are fixed in their new position with dissolvable stitches – these are hidden behind the eye so you won’t be able to see them afterwards
Sometimes, in adults and teenagers, further adjustments to your eye muscles may be made when you’ve woken up after the operation. Local anaesthetic eye drops are used to numb your eyes for this.
It can take several weeks to fully recover from squint surgery.
Your doctor or care team can give you specific advice about when you can return to your normal activities, but generally speaking:
- You can read or watch TV and carry out other daily activities as soon as you feel able to
- You can return to work or school after about a week
- Don’t drive for at least a day or two (as the anaesthetic may not have fully worn off), or for longer if you have double vision
- Try not to get any soap or shampoo in the eye when washing
- Most people return to exercise and sport after about a week, although you may asked to avoid swimming and contact sports (such as rugby) for two to four weeks
- Don’t use make-up close to the eyes for four weeks
- Your child shouldn’t play in sand or use face paint for two weeks
If you wore glasses before surgery, you’ll probably still need to wear them. But don’t wear contact lenses until you’re told it’s safe to do so