Chapter 16: Myths About Strabismus Surgery
A Patient & Parent Guide to Strabismus Surgery
George R. Beauchamp, M.D.
Myths about strabismus surgery include common misunderstandings about how the procedures are performed, complications and after effects of eye muscle surgery. This guide is meant to explain many aspects of strabismus and its surgical treatment. Hopefully, it will dispel some common misunderstandings about how the procedures are performed. The following are some common misapprehensions.
Myth # 1: Eye Position During Surgery
It is not necessary to remove the eye to perform strabismus surgery. The muscles attach to the sides of the eye and the surgery is performed with the eyes simply turned to the side, much as one turns one’s eyes to look in normal directions of gaze.
Myth # 2: Use of Lasers
Lasers are not required (or appropriate) for strabismus surgery. Lasers generally are used to destroy tissue to mold or remove it. In strabismus surgery, the goal is to move or modify muscles (and tendons) to weaken or strengthen their actions, thereby to change the angle between the eyes. Hence, removing or destroying tissue would be counter productive.
Myth # 3: Anesthesia Risks
Anesthesia is no longer very risky. Modern anesthesia techniques and agents have made it very safe. This is not to say that there is no risk, simply that it is so small as to be difficult to measure. Anesthesia in healthy persons, including children of all ages, carries a probable major risk on the order of one in a million or less.
Myth #4: Surgery in the Office
Surgery cannot be performed in the office. Because anesthesia must be administered, surgery must be performed in a hospital or outpatient surgical facility. Generally a general anesthesia is required and appropriate.
Myth #5: Patches or Bandages After Surgery
Bandaging the eye(s) is not necessary following surgery. No patches need be applied; however, if comfort is increased, one or both eyes may be covered.
Myth #6: Trouble Seeing and Wearing Glasses
You will be able to see following surgery. Since the muscles are attached to the outside of the eye, there is little effect on seeing. Blurring of the vision is common following surgery, and may be associated with preparation before surgery (including eye drops that dilate the pupil and sterilizing irrigating solutions), and tearing and mucus secreting reactions after surgery. These effects are temporary, generally lasting a few to 48 hours. Surgery generally changes refractive error (strength of glasses) very little, and so glasses will not need to be changed. Glasses (minus prisms!) may be worn immediately after surgery.
Myth #7: Returning to Activities
You will be able to return to school or work within a very few days following surgery. While there will be bruising and some soreness, most persons are able to be up and about soon enough to return to school or work in two to five days.
Read About Children and Strabismus Surgery