Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. One eye looks straight ahead while the other turns inward, outward, upward or downward. This misalignment may be constant or intermittent. Most strabismus in adults has been present since childhood. It can occur initially as an adult due to causes such as thyroid disease, brain tumors, neurological disorders and trauma.

If the strabismus has been present since childhood, the symptoms are usually minimal. If it develops late, double vision is common. Some adults, who have had strabismus from childhood but have been able to keep it under control, will lose that control as they get older. This can lead to eye strain, discomfort when reading, headaches, abnormal head positions and frank double vision.

Strabismus in adults is treatable and adults actually have more options for treatment than children with the condition. These options include eye exercises, glasses with prisms and eye muscle surgery, with the option of adjustable sutures. Unlike children, adults can usually cooperate after surgery with an in-office adjustment that will slightly increase the chances of success of the procedure. This "fine tuning" is an advantage adults have over children with strabismus. Dr. Kronwith will be able to give you an idea what this adjustment will feel like before you commit to this procedure.

Surgery for strabismus is done as an outpatient procedure, usually lasting from 1 to 2 hours. Certain muscles of the eye are located, cut and sewn back on the eye at different locations in order to change how strongly they move the eye. The eyeball itself is never removed during the surgery. Surgery will require general anesthesia. Recovery time is rapid and normal activities are usually restarted in a few days. After surgery, glasses may be required to keep the eyes straight. In about 15% of cases, further surgery may be needed at some point in the future.

The risks of strabismus surgery are extremely low, but as with all surgery there are potential problems. The doctor will go over these with you in great detail.

In conclusion, an adult need not live with misaligned eyes, even if they have had previous surgery. Glasses, prisms, exercises, and other treatments can help. Surgery can also be done and advances in surgical techniques allow an excellent chance of successful alignment and improved appearance for most adults.