Adults can have strabismus or misaligned eyes just like children. The strabismus seen in adults may be a residual problem from the strabismus they had as a child that either was not corrected or has recurred. Strabismus can also occur as a new problem in adults who have never had any previous strabismus. This new strabismus can result because of a stroke, tumors, certain neurologic conditions, diabetes, a brain or ocular injury, following other eye surgery such as retinal detachment surgery or in many cases for no identifiable reason.
Strabismus in adults can cause disabling double vision, reduced binocularity, limitation of the peripheral visual field and an appearance that makes it difficult to function normally in the work and social environment. Studies have demonstrated that individuals with an obvious eye misalignment have a reduced chance of being hired into a job and more limited opportunities for career advancement. Adult strabismus is a functional and not only a cosmetic problem.
Treatment of adult strabismus can involve the use of prisms and eye muscle surgery. If the eyes are only misaligned a little and the patient has double vision as a result, often times the placement of a prism in one or both lenses of their glasses will eliminate the double vision as long as the glasses are worn.
If the eye misalignment is larger, then eye muscle surgery is the treatment. This is outpatient surgery unless there are other concerning medical condition that would require an overnight hospital stay. Most individuals have significant improvement in eye alignment after one strabismus surgery. Just like with children, there is always the chance that there could be a residual misalignment right after surgery or one could develop with time. In these cases, additional surgery will often correct the misalignment and in some cases, if the misalignment is small and the patient’s main complaint is double vision, prisms in their glasses may resolve the problem without further surgery.
Many times adults are told or warned that they are too old for strabismus surgery or that they might get an overcorrection or see double after surgery. There is no age that is too old to correct adult strabismus other health reasons are a possible factor but not age. While some adults may have some double vision following strabismus surgery, for the vast majority of individuals this goes away in the first couple of weeks after surgery. It is true that an over correction can occur just as an under correction can. One is not worse than the other and both can usually be treated successfully with a second surgery. It is important to note that adults do not have to live with troublesome double vision or with eyes that are misaligned and affect their quality of life.
The benefits of treating adult strabismus, depending on the type of strabismus and problems that the patient experienced preoperatively, are reduction or elimination of double vision, increased binocular vision, expanded peripheral vision, and improved emotional, social and economic benefits as well. Successful correction of adult strabismus can provide an enhanced quality of life.
The treatment of adult strabismus is reconstructive and not cosmetic and most medical insurance will cover it. However, this should be checked prior to any surgery.
Children’s Eye Care provides this information for general educational purposes only. It should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published on this website is not intended to replace, supplant, or augment a consultation with an eye care professional. Children’s Eye Care disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this site.