Adult Strabismus Surgery
Pediatric Ophthalmologists treat all medical and surgical aspects of pediatric eye disease. Pediatric Ophthalmologists are also experts for patients with adult strabismus (misaligned eyes.) In fact, the official name for the fellowship after 4 years of ophthalmology surgical residency is “Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus.” At first some adult patients will think that they are in the wrong clinic when the see the toys and the train table, but they soon realize they are in the right place to get their complex eye alignment fixed.
Many adult patients are also under the impression that nothing can be done to fix their double vision or strabismus. They feel that since they had surgery as a child, nothing more can be done. “I had surgery as a kid, and it didn’t work.” In reality, sometimes it does take more than one surgery to achieve the desired result, and surgical techniques have improved tremendously. In particular, adjustable sutures can be used to fine tune the surgical procedure and get the best possible surgical result.
The concept of adjustable suture surgery is actually quite simple. Regular strabismus surgery moves muscles from their present location to a different location. Normally, the suture knot is tied permanently. In using the adjustable suture technique, the knot is tied only temporarily. This way the surgeon can gently loosen the knot and move the muscle to a slightly different location if desired. This can greatly improve surgical success in the right patient.
Adult eye muscle surgery is a medical procedure. While there may be social and cosmetic secondary gains, the main reason for doing the procedure is medical. Improved depth perception and binocular vision, and elimination of double vision are all goals of the surgery. Insurance companies do cover the surgery just as they would any other medical procedure. Sometimes surgery can even be avoided. Certain types of eye muscle paralysis can be treated with oral medicine. Other conditions are only temporary and will heal themselves with the passage of time. In these situations, temporary prisms on glasses are used to optimally align the eyes. Some patients with double vision need only a small amount of permanent prism incorporated into their glasses to fix the problem.
Adult patients who get their strabismus treated are some of the most happy and grateful patients. Many times these patients have to ask for a referral from their optometrist or family doctor as these doctors aren’t always aware of the benefits of seeing a pediatric ophthalmologist (strabismus surgeon). If you or a loved one has strabismus, don’t hesitate to seek out a “kid eye doctor” to treat your “adult eye muscle problem.” You will get expert care, better vision, and get to hang out in an office with really cool toys!