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Strabismus Treatment & Surgery

Strabismus is a condition that occurs when the eyes are misaligned or do not line up with each other and is commonly referred to as “crossed eyes” or “wall eye.” One eye may look straight ahead while the other may seem to be wandering or drifting out. Drifting can occur in any direction and may be constant or only happen from time-to-time. Adult strabismus may be caused either from a residual childhood problem, or it can be acquired as an adult from conditions that affect the strength of the eye muscles, such as thyroid eye disease, stroke or tumors, or, often, an unidentifiable cause. Strabismus in children can be present at birth or may become apparent at a later age. If parents notice crossed or wall eyes, they should seek an ophthalmologist for an examination. Treatments for strabismus may include glasses, medication, eye exercises, or strabismus eye surgery with an ophthalmologist.

How to Treat Crossed Eyes in Adults 

Strabismus treatment for adults and children may include prismatic glasses, medication, patching or surgery, but it is important to consult with an ophthalmologist who specializes in strabismus procedures near you. Dr. Bitner at Wolfe Eye Clinic is a highly trained pediatric ophthalmologist who performs strabismus surgery in Iowa for both children and adults.

In order to improve vision, several treatments may be used alone or in combination, depending on the type, severity, and cause of strabismus, including:

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses – this method may help people who have crossed eyes due to an uncorrected farsightedness

  • Medication (eye drops) – In some cases, as an alternative to patching, eye drops are used in the stronger (good) eye to temporarily blur the vision in the good eye. This forces use of the weaker eye.

  • Surgery – straightens and realigns muscles in the eyes; this method has a high success rate although risks should be discussed with your surgeon at a consultation appointment

  • Patching or covering the better-seeing eye – similar to eye drops, this method may work to strengthen the weakened eye

Who can treat adult strabismus?

At Wolfe Eye Clinic, our fellowship-trained pediatric ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye muscle surgery that is required to delicately align the eyes properly in patients of all ages.

Many adults with strabismus wonder, “Why am I being referred to see a pediatric ophthalmologist?” The answer is that misaligned eyes are frequently identified and treated in children, but strabismus is not as common in adults. Because of this, ophthalmologists who provide specialty care for children tend to have the most experience and expertise in treating eye muscle conditions such as adult strabismus and performing strabismus eye surgery for adults. When considering any surgery, especially with your vision, it’s important that you find the best ophthalmologist near you. At Wolfe Eye Clinic, our strabismus specialists are highly-trained ophthalmologists with an abundance of experience with your condition. In addition, they are here to answer all your questions about this condition and we can walk you through what to expect.

Strabismus Surgery

Strabismus eye misalignment diagram illustrating the different ways eyes can drift due to strabismus in comparison to healthy eye alignment.Strabismus surgery loosens or tightens eye muscles correcting the alignment of the eyes relative to each other. During surgery, the ophthalmologist uses small instruments to isolate and correct the eye muscle without needing to remove the eye itself. The surgery is performed on an out-patient basis at Wolfe Surgery Center or a trusted partner hospital, allowing you or your child to return home the day of the procedure. Most patients are back to their full activities in several days.

Strabismus surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia but can vary depending on the patient’s age. This means you or your child are not typically awake during the procedure. Following surgery, discomfort may be felt when moving the operative eye but generally varies per person. Patients may also feel as if something is in their eye. As with any surgery, there are risks and possible side effects such as temporary double vision. You or your child’s ophthalmologist will be there for you and walk you through, in detail, what to expect and any possible complications. 

Cost of Strabismus Eye Surgery

Eye alignment surgery, also known as strabismus surgery, is reconstructive and in most cases covered by insurance if deemed medically necessary. As with any medical procedure, one should check with their insurance carrier to determine coverage so they can prepare for any costs associated with strabismus surgery.

While every surgical procedure has some risks, the most common risks for strabismus surgery for adults are residual misalignment of the eyes and double vision. Most double vision that occurs after strabismus surgery is temporary, however more serious risks are present, but rare. Most patients have significant improvement in eye alignment.

Wolfe Eye Clinic offers pediatric eye surgeons who specialize in adult strabismus in Iowa with locations in Ankeny and Des Moines. If you’d like more information, you can request it online here, or give us a call at (833) 474-5850.