Strabismus is the medical term for eye misalignment. This condition is also known as “wandering eye” or “crossed eye.” More than four percent of adults have strabismus, many of them never had the condition treated as a child. Some might have proper treatment in childhood including surgery to straighten the eye, but the eyes drift again over time, creating adult strabismus. Other common causes of adult strabismus are strokes, trauma and thyroid eye disease.
There are common myths that strabismus in adults cannot be treated or treatment is only cosmetic. They are absolutely false. Both medical (glasses, prisms and exercise) and surgical treatment for adult strabismus can relieve double vision, improve depth perception and expand peripheral vision. Also, strabismus affects adults in emotional, social, and economical ways. Eye-to-eye contact during normal communications and social interactions are difficult for adults with life-long strabismus and may lead to impaired self-confidence. Also, as communication skills are key to success in many professions, strabismus can lead to limited job and advancement opportunities. Studies have shown that patients with strabismus are less likely to be hired for a job and are perceived as less intelligent.
At Silverdale Eye Physicians, we examine and treat patients with misaligned eyes at any stage, from infants to adults in their 90’s. Eyes can be surgically straightened at any age and reconstructing the normal appearance of the eyes often improves symptoms and enhances quality of life. In most cases, eye muscle surgery is a successful, safe, and effective treatment for strabismus in adults of all ages. The good news is that it is never too late for surgery.
Dr. Cheung performs almost all his strabismus operations at the Surgery Center of Silverdale on an outpatient basis without hospitalization. Although general anesthesia is used in many cases, regional anesthesia is equally effective. The procedure entails isolating the eye muscles and realigning them by placing them at different positions on the wall of the eye. Discomfort is typically mild and the eyes heal very quickly, usually within days to weeks. Most individuals return to nearly all normal activities within several days after surgery.
In some instances an adjustable technique is utilized so that refinement can be made when the patient awakens from general anesthesia. The adjustment procedure is typically done within several hours after the operation with anesthetic eye drops. This added step further increases the success rate towards elimination of double vision and best possible alignment.
For your appointment, please request that your referring eye doctors send us a copy of your prior eye exams. If you have had eye surgery in the past, or brain scans because of double vision, those reports can be very helpful. If your previous treatment was many years ago, or in childhood, ask family members for as many details as they can remember to relay to us. After your exam, Dr. Cheung will spend the time necessary to discuss your exam and treatment recommendations in detail.