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Eye Muscle Surgery

What is eye muscle surgery?

Eye muscle surgery adjusts the muscles of one or both eyes to straighten them. The eyeball is never taken out during this surgery.

When is eye muscle surgery done?

Eye muscle surgery is done to correct "crossed eyes", eyes that turn, and eyes that wander in/out or up/down. This may be seen at birth or develop as the child grows. It may only show when the child is ill, tired, or focusing on a close object. Reduced vision can occur in that eye. Prompt treatment is needed.

Preparing for surgery:

How you explain the surgery depends on your child's age.

  • Very young children, three years or less, need a short, simple explanation the same day of the surgery.
  • School-age and older preschoolers should know that they are coming to the hospital and that while they are sleeping the doctor will straighten their eye. They should know that when they wake up the parent will be there and there will be something on their arms to remind them not to touch their eye. Explain that their eye may feel like something is in it or it may itch.
  • Older children may need more in-depth explanations in response to their questions.

What to expect after surgery:

  • Your child's eye may be bloodshot and swollen. The redness may last several weeks.
  • There may be elbow restraints on your child to keep his/her elbows straight. This will prevent your child from getting his/her hands to his/her eyes.
  • The eyes may still not appear to be straight. Your child's vision may be blurred for several days.
  • Your child may have some bloody tears.
  • Your child may be sensitive to light. Many children prefer to keep their eyes closed.
  • Your child may feel sick to his/her stomach for a day.
  • There is little or no pain, but your child's eyes will feel dry and "gritty". Non-aspirin pain reliever may be given for this discomfort.
  • Most children are fussy for several hours. Parents are invited to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) soon after the child awakens.
  • Your child may have a flushed look to his/her face and chest 1-2 hours after surgery. This blotchy, red color is a normal response to the medication your child received in the Operating Room.

Special care:

  • Do not allow your child to rub his/her eyes. A cool damp cloth across the eyes may provide comfort.
  • Soft elbow restraints may be used on younger children to keep them from rubbing their eyes. Older children may just need them while sleeping. You may be given restraints and your child's nurse will discuss this with you before your child goes home.
  • If your child wears glasses, discuss with the doctor about if/when they should be worn.
  • Your child may wear dark glasses because his/her eyes may be sensitive to light.
  • Your child may resume normal/quiet activities. Ask your child's doctor when rough play, swimming, and physical education can resume.
  • Your child may watch TV or rest.
  • Eye ointment or drops may be needed. Your child's nurse will explain this to you before your child goes home.

When to call your child's doctor:

  • Extreme swelling
  • Your child has severe eye pain.
  • Your child has yellow or greenish eye drainage.
  • Your child's temperature is greater than 101.5oF by mouth or rectally. Slight fevers after surgery are normal. You should take your child's temperature at least once before bedtime that first night after the surgery.
  • Your child has vomiting that lasts more than six hours or the vomiting is severe. Your child can become dehydrated when he/she has prolonged or severe vomiting and is not able to drink enough fluid to keep up with the loss. The signs of dehydration are:
    • Dry mouth
    • Sunken look around eyes
    • No tears when crying
    • Decreased amount of urine, which means fewer wet diapers than usual in an infant/toddler

Remeber:

  • After the operation, the eyes may look straight but the brain is adjusting and still learning to see. It is very important to continue your child's visits to the eye doctor until treatment is finished.
  • While your child is wearing elbow restraints, please make sure that his/her arms stay warm and pink. If your child has numbness or tingling in the hands, or complains loudly about wearing the restraints remove the restraints, check to be sure nothing is under them pressing into the skin and then replace them. Please watch your child closely any time you remove the restraints. The restraints may be worn over or under clothing.
  • Please call if you have any questions or concerns. Use the phone number your child's nurse gives you.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 06/06