Strabismus (Crossed Eyes) - Surgery

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Is Surgery an Option to Treat Strabismus?

Yes. Surgery to correct strabismus is performed to strengthen or weaken the effect of one or more of the muscles that move the eye. When this procedure is performed on adults, it is usually done under local anesthesia. (The eye is numb, but the patient is awake.)

The surgeon will first make an opening into the outer layer of the eyeball. This allows the surgeon to reach the muscle that will be strengthened or weakened.

Strengthening the muscle means removing a small section from one end and then stitching it back together. This makes the muscle shorter, which tends to turn the eye toward the side of that muscle.

"Weakening" the muscle means making a cut across one end, but not removing any of the muscle to shorten it. Instead, a gap is left where the muscle was cut, and the ends of the muscle are tied back together with a suture (thread). This has the effect of making the muscle longer, which lets the eye turn further away from the side of that muscle.

At the end of the procedure, the surgeon will close the opening in the eye with stitches. The patient will often have double vision for a few weeks after surgery. This goes away as the brain adjusts to the new way of seeing.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.

Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, WebMD, October 2004.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2004
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