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Eye and Vision Care

Surgery for Turn in Eye

11/06/2009

Question:

I got some test done on my eyes today and she said that I am border line to get surgery done for the turn in my eye. She has to send the report back to my doctor. I am 36 years old. She gave me eye exercise that I can`t do. Where I hold a card in front of my nose and with both eyes move in one letter out a time. I tried that while I was there and the eye that has the turn in it didn`t look at the card it floated out. She told me to use my other eye when it turns out. But where I use one eye at a time I have no idea when it turns. The exercises that she wants me to do I can`t do. My eyes just don`t function that way. If I was to have surgery on my eye for an eye that turns up and out what might I expect the surgery to be like.

Answer:

You have described a condition known as strabismus (Strah-BIS-muhs) when one eye turns in, out, up, or down. Eye muscle surgery for this condition is common in children, but very unusual in adults. This is because the brain adapts to misalignment of the eyes over time so you do not perceive two equally-clear images simultaneously ("double vision"), which would be unbearable and hazardous.

I recommend you see a strabismus surgeon. That doctor will determine if your strabismus is of recent onset (and therefore possibly caused by an underlying medical condition) or has been present your entire life. If it is recent, he or she will recommend medical (but not surgical) therapy. And if it has been present your entire life, I suspect surgery will again not be recommended because the potential complications at your age may not be worth the risks.  

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Response by:

Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University