What is Strabismus?
Strabismus is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not line up with each other. Usually one eye is off an not focused on a central point. Being cross-eyed is one term used to refer to this condition. Some people develop this condition at a young age.
Strabismus will continue into adulthood if it is not properly treated. It is also possible to be born with the condition or to have it caused by injury or illness. Strabismus that is not treated can cause a loss of binocular vision and eventual double vision.
Treatment and Surgery
It is a common myth that strabismus cannot be treated in adults. In fact, adults of any age can have the problem corrected successfully. Eye muscle surgery is a safe and effective way to fix the problem of strabismus and typically yields successful results.
Eye muscle surgery can even widen a person’s vision field while restoring binocular vision and re-aligning the eyes. Many eye doctors agree that you are never too old to have strabismus treated.
Many adults seeking to have strabismus surgery will likely have to visit an ophthalmologist at a children’s hospital. The reason for this is that strabismus is a commonality in children and children’s doctors have more experience in dealing with the condition. The doctor’s are also specially trained to perform such surgeries and can carry out the procedure on a person of any age.
Eye muscle surgery uses anesthesia to put the patient to sleep, although the procedure can also be performed while the patient is awake. The doctor makes an incision over the eye and the muscle is detached. The muscle is then reattached in the correct position and held in place with sutures. The surgery takes about an hour to complete.
After the surgery, the patient will feel some mild pain and experience blurry vision for a few days. Daily activities can still be done, but most people tend to stay home from work for about a week until the eye heals. Redness may result from the surgery and can last for many weeks, but will eventually go away. Eye drops may also be recommended by the surgeon.
The most serious side effect of the surgery is that it simply may not work for some people. Either that, or the patient will need additional surgery. Double vision can develop and require surgery to correct. The eyelids can also change position, requiring more surgery to fix. Scarring on the eye can occur, but this is very rare.
Coverage for Surgery
Many people believe that adult strabismus surgery is merely for cosmetic purposes. While the surgery does correct the cosmetic part of the eyes by making them straight, it has medical results as well. Since binocular vision can be restored, a patient will have a greater range of vision and depth perception that they either had lost or did not have to begin with.
If eye contact is part of a job, a patient can suffer in their work when communicating with people is relative to how successful they are in doing their work. School teachers can struggle with strabismus since it can affect their communication with students.
Srabismus can also lead to functional problems like double vision. This can hinder everyday tasks like driving and other acitivities that require correct vision and depth perception. For these reasons and many others, adult strabismus surgery is labeled as reconstructive rather than cosmetic.
With the question of whether or not eye muscle surgery is medical or cosmetic come the question of whether or not it can be covered by insurance. Since the surgery is classified as medical, most insurance companies will cover the expense.
Insurance companies may refuse to pay for the surgery at first, but further education usually persuades them into providing coverage since the procedure is meant to correct a disability. Many doctors may contact the insurance company in order to explain the details of the treatment. It is common for many insurance companies to cover the cost of adult strabismus surgery.
As with any surgery, be sure to know the facts and the risks before going through with adult strabismus surgery. Consult a certified eye doctor to determine if you would be a good candidate for this type of surgery.