Lazy Eye Surgery
Amblyopia, commonly referred to as lazy eye, is a condition in which you have poor vision that cannot be fixed with corrective lenses. It also isn’t related to any kind of eye disease. The underlying issue that leads to lazy eye is that the brain just doesn’t recognize images reported to it by the amblyopic eye.
Lazy eye is more commonly seen in children, as it affects an average of three percent of kids under the age of six. It usually only occurs in one eye, but can be prevalent in both. Amblyopia typically is caused by other, related eye conditions such as:
- The persistent turning of one eye, called strabismus
- Droopy lids
- Different corrective requirements in each eye, called anisometropia
- Trauma to the eye
- Refractive error
- Childhood cataracts
- Anatomical abnormalities
Symptoms to Watch for
Lazy eye usually develops in childhood between birth and the age of seven. If you have even the slightest concern that your child may have a lazy eye, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist because amblyopia only can be detected with an eye exam.
Physical symptoms of lazy eye you might recognize include:
- Shutting one eye to focus
- One eye seems to move to the side
- Ineffective depth perception
- Both eyes seemingly focused on different objects
- Head tilting to get a clearer view
In the first few weeks after birth, you might even notice that your baby’s one eye seems to wander on its own. If you don’t observe any of the physical symptoms mentioned, even healthy babies should get an eye exam between the ages of three and five to rule out abnormalities and begin to treat any problems early.
What Are the Risks?
So many things can happen in the womb that can lead to neurological development issues. Babies most at risk of having lazy eye, however, include:
- Babies born with other developmental disabilities
- Small birth weight
- Family history of lazy eye
Early Treatment Before Surgery
Ideally, caught early enough, surgery can be avoided. The first step is to correct the cause of the lazy eye. Corrective treatments might include eye surgery to fix droopy lids, cataract removal or even eyeglasses in some cases. Eye patches to retrain the lazy eye also are widely accepted forms of early intervention for amblyopia.
Eye muscle exercises may be employed in rare cases when the eyes have difficulty focusing in on small objects. Computer vision therapy may be successful for adults with a lazy eye that wasn’t corrected in childhood.
Earlier Surgery Is Better
Since amblyopia is a neurological disorder, surgery usually cannot fix it. The surgery used to correct lazy eye is aimed at straightening the eyes so they appear normal. Strabismus surgery is the most common surgery performed to treat lazy eye.
The procedure can be done in both children and adults, with little to no effect on the visual acuity in adults. The main reason adults undergo the surgery is for cosmetic reasons. Children, on the other hand, still have developing brains. So even though the surgery also improves the appearance of your child, by straightening his eyes, he also has a good chance of recovering vision in the affected eye after the surgery.
The best candidates for lazy eye surgery are under the age of 17. The surgery to correct the underlying cause of the lazy eye should be performed after extensive therapy that focuses on retraining the amblyopic eye. Lazy eye surgery on adults rarely provides any improvement in vision.
Children who undergo eye muscle strengthening surgery typically are placed under general anesthesia because the procedure can be frightening. Adults who get the surgery for cosmetic reasons remain awake during the procedure; they’re given local anesthesia to numb the eye area and to help them relax.
Lazy eye surgery usually involves either a resection or recession of the weakened eye muscle. During a resection procedure, the eye muscle is cut and made shorter to strengthen it. During a recession, an eye muscle that’s too tight is reattached to the back of the eye to allow it to move more naturally.
Nearly 1.2 surgeries to correct a lazy eye are performed every year with great success. Risks associated with the surgery include:
- Long-lasting misalignment of the eyes
- Reactions to the anesthesia
- Trouble breathing during the surgery
- Bleeding and infection
- Permanent double vision
- Retinal detachment
While serious complications are rare, sometimes the surgery needs to be performed twice to completely eradicate the abnormal eye movements. Also, though double vision is a common side effect of the surgery, it’s usually only temporary and often easily corrected with lenses.
After the Surgery
The most common complaint following surgery to correct a lazy eye is a headache, which is usually mild and lasts only a couple days. Other potential after-effects include:
- A pulling sensation around the area that was treated
- A feeling as if something’s in your eye
The procedure is done on an outpatient basis, and you or your child usually can return to normal activities within two to three days, although swimming and other rigorous physical activities may be limited for a few weeks. Children and adults must continue with visual therapies for the lazy eye to have any chance of retraining the eye and regaining vision.
Complications of Doing Nothing
When children with lazy eye go untreated, there’s a chance that they’ll go totally blind in the amblyopic eye. Lazy eye is the direct cause of about three percent of adults with complete vision loss.
And even if your child has had corrective surgery and undergone extensive therapy, there is about a 25 percent chance that the lazy eye returns, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because of the high rate of recurrence, it’s vital that you schedule regular eye exams that specifically test for amblyopia and any signs of aberrant vision loss in one eye.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult eye doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified eye doctor can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Lazy Eye Surgery procedure in NYC? Would like to schedule an appointment with New York Ophthalmologist, Optometrist Dr. Saba Khodadadian of Manhattan Eye Specialists, please contact our office for consultation with NYC eye doctor.
Dr. Saba Khodadadian, Optometrist (NYC Eye Doctor)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4821