Why do you need squint surgery?

Squint or strabismus surgery is a procedure that involves repositioning the muscles responsible for eye movement to achieve a better alignment of the eyes. Corrective eye surgery eliminates double vision and general problems with vision due to misaligned eyes. A squint is a condition that causes the eyes to move in different directions and therefore remain out of sync. For example, one eye can turn in or out while the other points in another direction-up, down or sideways. While strabismus is common in paediatric patients, adults are also susceptible to squint. It may happen continuously or come and go, varying from patient to patient.

When is squint surgery required?

Strabismus surgery is often suggested when prescription glasses prove ineffective and you begin to notice a sudden decline in your field of vision. For example, strabismus surgery is largely considered if you notice double vision and problems with your perception of depth.

How is surgery performed?

Before surgery, patients attend a preoperative appointment to help them prepare for the procedure. Your doctor performs a few tests to ensure you are eligible for the procedure. This specialised exam is a sensorimotor exam to evaluate how the patient’s eyes are aligned. By conducting this exam, doctors can identify the muscles responsible for strabismus and can therefore reposition, shorten, lengthen or tighten the muscles appropriately. As a result, the eyes will be better placed.

Surgery is carried out using a general anaesthetic to sedate the patient. A lid speculum is a tool doctors use to keep the eye open. Afterwards, the surgeon disconnects the eye’s muscle and repositions it so that the eye aligns better. Dissolvable stitches hold the eye's muscles in a fixed position and are strategically hidden, so surgery remains unnoticed.

After surgery, you can expect the eyes to be sore. However, surgical pads are placed over the eyes to protect them from injury or infection. Usually, you can remove these coverings the day after the procedure.



Is it too late to correct strabismus?

Strabismus can be corrected in young children, teenagers and adults. However, it is better to undergo this procedure at an early age, up until 17 years old.

Does strabismus worsen with age?

As we age, our eye muscles weaken; unfortunately, strabismus can follow us until adulthood. The condition may even reappear in our later years.

Does patching improve strabismus?

Patching corrects problems with eyesight, such as amblyopia which refers to a lazy eye but does not fix misaligned eyes. The only way to correct strabismus is through eye injections that weaken the muscles but only last three months or more. A permanent procedure is corrective eye muscle surgery that manipulates the eye’s muscles to see properly.

Dr Philip and Dr Precious Phatudi
are skilled ophthalmologists based in Sandton