I had my fourth strabismus surgery 13 months ago. You can read all about surgery, suture adjustments and recovery, but today I am going to talk about how the results are sticking one year later.
So the big question, Did strabismus surgery fix my eyes? Yes and No. The surgery certainly helped my eyes appear more straight and I have been able to see major improvements in my peripheral vision and stereo vision at near. The surgery didn’t make my eyes perfectly straight so I still don’t have perfect fusion and stereopsis in the distance, but it brought my eyes close enough together that vision therapy will hopefully do the rest. Being left esotropia instead of exotropic has made the therapy more difficult.
Not everyone seeking strabismus surgery is looking to get binocular vision or depth perception like I was, so those people would likely consider my surgery a raging success. My eyes look straight, which is definitely amazing!
But getting surgery was about much more than looking normal for me. I am passionate about improving my depth perception and gaining full time stereo vision.
Keep reading to learn about my measurements now and then, what I would have done differently, and how you can decide if surgery is the right choice for you. Check out my free resources over HERE.
Just days before surgery, I had a severe exotropia measured at 35 diopters (degrees) at both near and far distances. I could straighten my eyes at will, but couldn’t hold that position in a relaxed state.
Two months after the surgery, my eyes definitely looked better, but I was measuring at 18 diopters of esotropia (the eye points in) in the distance and around 10 at near. I was getting some great fusion and stereo up close.
After one year, I am measuring at 10-12 diopters for the distance and 4-6 at near so the eye turn is still improving. I owe these improvements to vision therapy and daily exercises for the last year.
Where is My Vision At One Year Post Surgery?
My vision is 10 x better than it was three years ago. It can’t even be compared, but I have this perfectionist attitude and I want perfect stereo vision all the time. So when you see the “needs improvement” category, just know that this is coming from the perspective of seeking perfection. I have great vision now, no need for glasses, and I feel comfortable driving day or night, but I know that it can be better. I plan to keep working on my vision until the day I die.
Thriving Aspects of My Vision
- I can see and appreciate the world in 3D and see the space between objects about 75% of the time in real life.
- My eyes are straight to the casual observer and I don’t have to worry about the aesthetically difficult part of having strabismus anymore.
- Driving and parking aren’t a problem anymore, driving is actually my favorite because my peripheral is so awesome now!
- Depth in exercises and 3D movies is so tangible, as long as I am close up.
- While daily living is great, I still can’t do many of the eye exercises in the distance like the Brock string, vectographs and fusion activities.
- When I am in motion or my eyes are in motion my vision is amazing, but when I hold still and focus on something small, it doubles.
- When tired, I am experiencing some hypertropia. It got really bad for a few weeks and was pretty frustrating.
- I still have ARC (anomalous retinal correspondence) and it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to go away.
Seeing depth in 3D movies and in real life is a thrill that will never get old!
Would I do the Surgery Again?
If I could rewind the clocks and go back to August 23, 2020 would I still go through with the surgery?
It has helped me get to where I am and I am learning and growing and have full confidence that this is the path I am supposed to be on and all that…
But for the sake of helping others who are making this choice, I will share my “I wish I had” moments from surgery to hopefully help the next person in line.
There is one little thing I would have done differently that could have made a big difference for me.
Just before surgery, I casually mentioned to my surgeon that I hoped that I wouldn’t be left with my eyes pointing in (esotropia) because it is much more difficult to complete vision therapy when compared to the eyes pointing out (exotropia).
He explained that for strabismus surgery, it is always important to overcorrect because the eyes will shift and move over time and he wanted to make sure they didn’t just go back to where they were before.
But I don’t think this is the same for vision therapy patients.
If I could go back, I would have insisted on being made either perfectly straight, or slightly under corrected because I had already learned how to control exotropia and learning esotropia has made the vision therapy much more difficult.
After a year of fighting esotropia, I have even considered another, very minor surgery, to move my eye slightly out to make the fusion and stereopsis easier.
I’m not a doctor, but I think anyone combining surgery with vision therapy should be left slightly exotropic to make the therapy easier. Just my two cents.
I still have seen huge improvements in both the way I look and the way I see from the surgery and I definitely would do it again, even with the result of being left slightly esotropic.
How Can You Decide If Surgery is the Right Option For You?
Choosing to get surgery can be a daunting decision, I get it.
It costs money, requires a 1-2 week recovery, and could result in bigger problems instead of solutions so there are risks!
To make this decision for yourself, consider the following:
1. First decide what your goals are (straight eyes, 3D, fix double vision, etc)
2. If you want to get both eyes working together, surgery should only happen after you have first tried vision therapy. Many cases can be fixed without surgery, and complicated cases, like mine, are more likely to get results that stick if combined with therapy.
3. If you just want your eyes to be straight, go for it, but be aware that the results probably won’t last forever because with strabismus, the eyes are always moving, trying to find a position that works.
I have a few other options that might help you decide.
You can explore the free test that I made to help you discover if and how well your eyes are working together over here.
You can read this article I wrote about vision therapy vs surgery.
You can book a consult with me and I will help you figure it out, learn more here.