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Eye Muscle Surgery

photo_tThe muscles of the eye are responsible for multi-directional movement—they allow you to look up, down, and side to side in nearly infinite combinations. Eye muscles connect the orbital socket and different areas of the sclera (the white protective covering of the eyeball) by tendons.

During eye muscle surgery, these muscles are weakened, strengthened, or repositioned to correct problematic eye alignments that can create impaired vision or discomfort.  

Common Disorders Benefit From Eye Muscle Surgery

Perhaps the most common eye muscle disorder is strabismus, or “misaligned” eyes. Types of strabismus include estropia, exotropia, hypertropia, and hypotropia. Estropia is commonly referred to as “crossed eyes,” and occurs when the eyes turn inward. The opposite of estropia is exotropia in which the eyes turn outward (“wall-eyed”). Hypertropia and hypotropia refer to the location of the eyes in relation to each other. A hypertrophic eye is higher than it should be and a hypotrophic eye is lower than its ideal location.

Strabismus can be subtle or obvious, intermittent or constant, and affect one eye only or shift from eye to eye. It is most common in infancy and childhood and can be caused by a child overcompensating for a lack of glasses. However, some cases do not have a well-understood cause, and seem to develop because they eye muscles are uncoordinated and do not move the eyes together. Other times, strabismus can be a result of brain disorders, injury, or thyroid eye disease. In children, most cases of strabismus are mild—they may hold their heads to one side if they can use their eyes together in that position, or close or cover one eye when it deviates. In adults, strabismus can have greater consequences such as double vision or the loss of depth perception.

Closely related to strabismus, amblyopia is also known as “lazy eye”, occurs only in children, and happens when children learn to suppress double vision (only occurring in one eye) so effectively that the deviating eye gradually loses vision. It may be necessary to patch the good eye and wear glasses before treating the strabismus.

About Eye Muscle Surgery

Eye exercises are rarely effective in treating strabismus, so the goal of eye muscle surgery is to adjust the tension on the eye muscles to get the eyes close enough to perfectly straight that it is hard to see any residual deviation. Surgery usually improves the condition, though the results are rarely perfect, and are usually better in young children. The surgery requires general anesthesia in children, but can be done with local anesthesia in some adults. Prisms and Botox injections of the eye muscles are alternatives to surgery in some cases.

Talk to your doctor today for more information about treatment and surgery options.