The eye is a delicate organ that features a series of elastic muscles that are responsible for movement and focus. These muscles can become misaligned or grow weak or overly strong over time, which can affect vision and ocular movement. If anything happens to your eye muscles, an eye surgeon might suggest eye muscle surgery to repair or help correct the problem.
Eye muscle surgery can be used to treat crossed eyes, lazy eyes and more. Read on to learn more about eye muscle surgery.
In the most common type of eye muscle surgery, the eye surgeon will detach and realign the various eye muscles to correct disorders affecting binocular vision, vision in which both of the eyes are used together to see more clearly.
Another surgery for eye muscles involves strengthening or weakening of the eye muscles. To strengthen a muscle, the eye surgeon will detach the muscle from the eye, remove a section to shorten the muscle and then reattach it in its original position.
To weaken the eye muscle, the eye doctor will use one of two procedures:
In the first procedure, the eye doctor will detach and reposition the muscle further back on the eye, thereby lengthening the muscle.
The second procedure is a newer procedure that was introduced in the early 1980s. In this procedure, the eye doctor will inject botulinum toxin (more commonly known as Botox®) directly into the extraocular muscle. Although the toxin wears off, the realignment will often be permanent.
People with crossed eyes or lazy eyes are excellent candidates for eye muscle surgery. In rare cases, eye muscle surgery may be performed on patients afflicted with nystagmus, a condition in which the eyes move rapidly or oscillate. Eye surgery may help by aligning the eyes in the position of least movement.
Eye surgery may also be used to treat Duane syndrome, an eye condition that is characterized by limited horizontal eye movement. In some cases, the syndrome can be improved via an eye surgery that weakens the eye muscles to allow for additional movement.
Extraocular eye muscle surgery is generally performed in a hospital as an outpatient procedure. Once the determination is made that surgery is necessary, the eye doctor will take measurements of the eye to determine which muscles require attention. At no point during surgery is the eye removed from the socket. Patients should inform their doctors prior to surgery of any medications they are taking and any allergies they have.
The eye surgery generally begins with the application of a local anesthesia to relax the eye muscles. The doctor will then make an incision through the eye's cornea and will reposition the necessary muscles.
After eye surgery, you should avoid rubbing your eyes, as this could impair the healing process. You may experience a slight itchiness in the eyes but will generally feel no pain. During the healing process there will be some swelling and discharge that will subside within a few days of surgery.
There are limited risks to eye muscle surgery. On rare occasions, retinal or nerve damage can occur, which can lead to blindness. Some patients also experience double vision following surgery. This, however, can be treated with corrective lenses or vision therapy.
Eye muscle surgery is very common, with approximately 700,000 procedures performed annually in the United States. Patients can expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for treatment. Many medical plans cover eye muscle surgery, so patients seeking treatment should check with their insurance provider to determine whether the procedures are covered.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions