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Eye Muscle Surgery

Why Would My Child Need Eye Muscle Surgery?

Eye muscle surgery is done to correct strabismus. Strabismus is the term used to describe any condition in which the eyes are not parallel, whether one eye turns or wanders in or out, or up or down.

The type and amount of surgery done will depend on the child's measurements that are done in the office.

Before Surgery

A few days before the surgery, a nurse from Same Day Surgery will contact the parents of the child. He or she will confirm what time the child should arrive at the hospital on the day of surgery. Child awakes post-surgery and post-anesthesia.

They will also review when it is time to stop solid food and liquids and review your child’s medications with you.

The parents should bring a physical exam form that has been filled out by the patient's pediatrician within 30 days prior to surgery. On the day of the procedure, the patient should wear comfortable clothing and wear no jewelry, eye makeup or fingernail polish. A doctor or nurse practitioner from the Anesthesia Department will talk to the parents about the anesthesia on the day of surgery. They will be available to answer any questions the family may have. 

During Surgery

The procedure will take place in the operating room.

The child will be asleep for the entire operation and will not feel any pain or any other sensations. He or she will be monitored by doctors and nurses throughout the procedure.

The anesthesia team will discuss with the patient and/or family how the patient will go to sleep. Children 12 and older will have an IV placed in Same Day Surgery before going to the Operating Room. This is to provide fluids and medications during the procedure.

Special eye instruments are used to hold the eyelids open. No incisions are made in the skin and the eye is not removed at any time during the procedure.

A small opening is made on the membrane covering the white part of the eye. Through this opening, the doctor will operate on the muscles that control the movements of the eye. When the doctor is finished he or she will cover the muscles with the membrane. There are no stitches to remove because they will dissolve on their own.

After Surgery

The ophthalmologist will speak to the parents as soon as he or she has completed the procedure. At this time, the doctor will provide post surgery instructions including the use of eye drops and ointment to help with healing and prevent infection. Your doctor may also give specific instructions about follow-up care.

The child will wake up in the recovery room. A nurse will call for the parents as soon as the child awakens.

The child's eyes will be red after surgery. This redness lasts for several weeks as the eye heals. He or she may have blood-tinged tears for the first day after surgery. There may be some swelling of the eyelids. The child may also experience double vision for several days after surgery.

Diet and Activity

Offer the child clear liquids (water, apple juice, Jell-O, Popsicles) when you return home. Gradually return to a regular diet. It is not unusual for children to feel sick to their stomach after surgery.

Children may be tired and fussy for a day or two after surgery. Normal activities may be resumed as tolerated. The child may return to school or day care one or two days after surgery unless otherwise directed by the doctor.

Avoiding Discomfort

The child's eyes may be sensitive to light. He or she may want to keep both eyes closed a lot and may squint often. This may occur for one week or more. If necessary, keep lights dimmed or have the child wear sunglasses.

Tylenol may be given for relief of pain and relief of mild fever. A mild fever of 99 to 100 degrees is not unusual; however if the fever persists or gets higher, contact the doctor. A cool, damp cloth placed over the eyelids can help to soothe eye discomfort.

Contact Us

If the child experiences increased pain, bleeding, swelling or drainage, call the eye clinic during office hours, 513-636-4751. For questions after office hours, call Cincinnati Children's, 513-636-4200 and ask to speak to the ophthalmology resident on-call.

Last Updated 07/2021

Reviewed By Pamela Thompson, RN
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The ophthalmology program at Cincinnati Children's is one of the largest centers in the nation for the care of children’s eyes, treating everything from common to very rare conditions.

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