Squint surgery, also known as Strabismus surgery, is a kind of eye operation done to treat squinted eyes. A squint is a condition where the eyes are pointed in different directions. This condition is usually seen in young children but can occur at any age. One of the eyes looks up, down, or sideways, while the other looks ahead. Getting the surgery as early as possible is generally recommended because it is unlikely to get better without medical intervention. One must check the following signs of a squint before taking medical help:
- If a child squints all the time.
- The squint comes and goes if a child is older than three months.
- If a child is showing early signs of squint, such as looking at things with one eye closed.
It can be generally treated with glasses or eye exercises during its initial phase. However, surgery is recommended if glasses are not effective. The exact cause of squint is unknown, but some people are born with squint while it runs in the family for some people. In children, squint is often caused if the eyes try to overcome vision problems such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism. A squint can also be a symptom of a rare childhood eye cancer, retinoblastoma.
Before the surgery, there is a pre-operative assessment conducted by the hospital. Some basic tests are performed to check eligibility and determine if you and your eyes are fit for the surgery without serious complications. You will be instructed on various things, such as when to stop eating and drinking before surgery. After the surgery, you might have to stay for a day in the hospital. Usually, you are discharged the same day, ideally with someone to accompany you, as you will be sleepy and are recommended not to drive for some days.
The surgery usually takes less than an hour, and you are operated under general anesthesia. The following steps are taken during the surgery:
- The eye is held open with the help of an instrument, ‘lid speculum’.
- The surgeon moves a muscle connected to the eye into a new position so the eyes point in the same direction.
- The muscles are shifted and fixed in their new position with dissolvable stitches.
- After the surgery and the patient wakes up, they are given local anesthetic eye drops to numb the eyes and ease the slight pain.
The surgeon and the hospital take a few post-operative steps, including putting a pad over the operative eye, which is usually removed the following day or sometimes before you get discharged. The eye is usually sore for at least a few days. The patient is given painkillers to ease the pain or discomfort in the eye, and some eye drops are given to help with the healing. There are a few side effects a patient might feel post-surgery:
Pain in the eye usually lasts a few days after surgery and often feels itchy. The doctors recommend some painkillers, such as paracetamol, but children under 16 are not advised to take aspirin.
Blood in tears –
It is common to see blood in your tears and watering eyes, which might last a few weeks.
The stitches often cause itchy eyes and usually last a few weeks. The patient is advised not to touch or rub their eyes.
Double Vision –
Double Vision, or Diplopia, is not very serious but must be treated before it becomes fatal. It usually goes away after a week, but it might last longer.
The patient is generally advised to visit frequently with an eye specialist after surgery. One must contact them if they face any severe side effects post-surgery.
Double Vision occurs when you look at one image but can see two. It might affect one or both eyes. Following are some symptoms someone with double Vision might face:
- Squinting eyes, trying to see better
- Covering one eye to see clearly
- Tilting their heads unusually
- Looking sideways instead of forward
There are multiple risks and complications of squint surgery, which include:
Permanent double Vision –
Diplopia is a condition that can be difficult to handle and may require special glasses to correct your Vision.
Infection, abscess, or cyst –
After squint surgery, the patient might face some infection in their eyes, or the building up of pus is common around the eye, which may require treatment with antibiotics. It can also be treated with a procedure to drain the pus.
Loss of Vision –
Vision impairment in such surgeries is extremely rare and less likely to occur but not impossible.
Slipping of eye muscle –
The eye muscles might slip out of position, requiring surgery to correct it.
How to Correct Double Vision or Diplopia?
Double Vision is often common, and it goes away within a few weeks, but sometimes it can take months which might be a sign of more serious health conditions. Some basic to serious symptoms of Diplopia include headache, nausea, dizziness, eye pain, and blurred Vision. Treatments include surgery, eye exercises, or contact lenses. Usually, it can be treated with glasses or lenses, but surgery is recommended in case of a serious condition.
However, treatment for Diplopia is usually dependent on the underlying cause. It can vary according to what is causing it in the first place. In the case of monocular double Vision, treatment might include using corrective glasses or contact lenses, laser surgery, which involves reshaping the cornea, and cataract surgery. If the patient feels dry eyes, it can also result in double Vision, which can be treated with eye drops. On the other hand, treatments for binocular double Vision include wearing glasses, eye exercises, using contact lenses, eye patches, and surgery on the muscle of the eye.
Moreover, it is important to follow some post-operative care in case of squint surgery to avoid facing such side effects:
Avoid driving –
Post-operative care is extremely important to follow regarding squint surgery. Avoid traveling alone, and always have someone to escort you whenever you go out. Avoid driving for a few days.
Avoid rubbing eyes –
The muscle tissue in your eye is extremely sensitive at this phase, and it is important to be careful when touching your eyes. It is common to feel itchiness but avoid rubbing it vigorously.
Avoid direct eye contact with water for at least a week following the surgery. It is advised mostly to prevent infection from bacteria in the water supply while your eye is still healing.
Other activities –
Avoid swimming for two weeks after the surgery. Playing football, baseball, and soccer should also be avoided for the first two weeks, especially for children. In the case of adults, heavy lifting or strength training is strictly prohibited following surgery.
Thus, while double Vision, or Diplopia, is common in patients who undergo squint surgery, one must consult an eye specialist in case of severe symptoms post-surgery.