What's it like: To have a 'lazy eye' or 'crossed eyes' corrected

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye” is the loss of one eye's ability to see details, a common cause of vision problems in children. Sometimes amblyopia is present first, and it causes strabismus, misalignment of the eyes that's sometimes referred to as “crossed eyes.”
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: July 28, 2013

Why would someone have a ‘lazy eye' corrected?

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye” is the loss of one eye's ability to see details, a common cause of vision problems in children. Sometimes amblyopia is present first, and it causes strabismus, misalignment of the eyes that's sometimes referred to as “crossed eyes.” Surgery might be recommended when strabismus does not improve with glasses or eye exercises.

Surgery is more common in children. There are some visual benefits to a surgeon correcting the condition earlier in life. When your eyes are lined up, you can use them together and have better depth perception, among other things. There are some social, or cosmetic, benefits to surgery as well.

What happens during surgery?

The details of your surgery will depend on what kind of misalignment you have and the extent of the issue.

For example, if your eyes or your child's eyes are turned in, your surgeon might take the muscle that pulls the eyes in, the medial rectus, and weaken it in each eye. In other instances, your surgeon might strengthen an eye muscle. It depends on how the eye is positioned.

Before your surgery, you will have a complete eye exam. Your doctor will look at your eye's alignment and take measurements. Your doctor might use a prism, which bends light to measure how much the eye is deviating. Based on these measurements, your doctor will move your eye or eyes' muscles accordingly.

The surgery is generally an outpatient procedure, meaning you go home afterward, and you'll usually placed under general anesthesia, in which you fall asleep and do not feel the surgery.

Does it hurt?

You shouldn't feel anything during surgery. After surgery, your eyes might feel scratchy, like getting something in your eye. It likely will be irritating, but as the stitches soften and dissolve, it gets better.

Children usually can take children's ibuprofen, or Motrin, or acetaminophen, or Tylenol.

Adults generally have a harder time with the surgery. They're usually prescribed prescription pain medication and need to take about a week off work. After the surgery, adults will notice their eyes are sensitive and their vision might be blurred.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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