Strabismus Surgery - Need Your Help (Boston Area)

Updated on November 27, 2009
E.K. asks from Arlington, MA
9 answers

Hi Moms,

During the 4 months well visit the pediatrician was alarmed by how much my daughter crosses her eyes. We saw the opthalmologist next day and she confirmed strabismus and suggests correct the "eyes" through a surgery. I am wondering if some of you had this with your child and
a) did your child have a surgery
b) did it go well? was the visual appearance corrected AND the eyes aligned parallel?
c) how well did your child take it?
d) how old was your child?
e) where was the surgery?
f) how to find the best doctor with miracle touch?

I would appreciate any information and suggestions. We are overwhelmed ans scared. thank you.

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answers from Boston on

first off. get a second opinion.. did your child see an pediatric opthamologist?? Dr Jeff Sorkin is the ONLY pedatric opthamologist in the area and he's fantastic. A lot of opthamologists will say they work on kids, but they aren't board certified like Dr Sorkin. He's well worth the time it takes to get an appt and everything else that goes along iwth it.. We went thru 4 other dr's before we were happy with him. My daughter was lucky enough that wearing a patch over one eye did the trick for her (on top of wearing glasses too). That's far less invasive than surgery. Call Dr SOrking, he's in Peabody in Centennial Park, Micro surgical eye associates.. I know a lot of people who go to him. he's the best!


answers from Providence on

I agree, seek a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opinion.

My son, who's 3 now, had a "lazy eye" and sometimes it would seem like both were "lazy" at times...nothing terribly scary but you could notice it in pictures. I didn't panic, because instinctively I had a feeling they would straighten out. And they straightened out by themselves with no intervention.

But if I was in your shoes, I would absolutely go with your gut instinct as the mother and also I would seek at least 3 more opinions on the matter. Four months old seems young to diagnose surgery as a remedy. But I'm no MD, so go get some more opinions. Good luck.



answers from Boston on

Seek a 2nd opinion. If you have doubts at all, do not do it at this time. I think its a bit young at 4 mos to make such a decision. At least wait a bit longer to see if it gets better. You don't have to do the surgery & a 2nd opinion won't hurt anything. Good luck to yOU.
I want to add that my 5yo daughter now wears glasses. She has weak muscles in both eyes, and from wearing glasses i have noticed a difference in just the short few months shes had them. Consider all your options, thats all.



answers from Bangor on

I actually live in Montréal, so our doctor is certainly not available for you, but here is my experience anyway.

We noticed that our daughter's eyes crossed in during her first few months of life. We brought it to our ped.'s attention at the 6 mo visit and he made some calls to get us in with the opthamologist (pediatric). That took a while. We did patching from 10 mo- 17 mo, when the surgery was. The patching definitely helped strengthen one eye, which she had been barely using. She didn't mind the patch much. (Now that she is almost 2, we can't get her to wear the patch (see later).)

The surgery was to decrease the range of motion of the muscles that pull inward on both eyes. They had measured the angle of how crossed the eyes were, so they knew where to reattach the muscles. My husband had to be out of town for the surgery and my mom was able to be with me. Everything was fine in the waiting rooms and my daughter was even fine being held by the docs that were going to work on her. I was looking down signing something when they walked away with her and I looked up and saw she was gone (happily and calmly in some nurse's arms) and I burst into tears. They asked if I wanted her back to say goodbye but I knew I shouldn't do that. So that was hard on me, but I was able to be calm once I distracted myself.

They pull back the convuntiva (clear covering over the eyes) to access the muscles, so these were dark with blood on the inner corners of her eyes. She was groggy coming out of the aneasthetic, and serious, not herself. Once she was up for a while, they let us leave, and within 30 minutes, my daughter was climbing all over the place and playing like normal back at home.

The surgery made a major difference in the angle between her eyes. Everyone said so when they saw her. We were supposed to keep patching a little but we never did because the summer of her being 18-21 months was so tough just trying to be parents of a regular precocious terrible-twos kid.

We recently had a checkup (when my daughter was 22.5 mo) and they found that now one of her eyes points higher than the other, and she still doesn't use them at the same time. Instead, she alternates rapidly. It's obvious now that they pointed it out. The difference in vertical position was impossible to tell before the surgery because the eyes were so crossed in, so they didn't know to fix that.

There are glasses waiting for us now that have a mild prescription to correct mild farsightedness, and something to deal with this vertical issue. We have to pick them up and then figure out how to get this energetic, strong-willed little girl to wear them.

The hope is that the glasses will help her truly use both eyes at once (have binocular vision).

As for finding the miracle doctor, of course that is not possible because doctors practice science, not miracles. That said, we did have a visit with some interns or students or something who had terrible bedside manner and couldn't get a measurement of anything without major struggles and screaming from my baby. Our first appointment (at the same department) with our surgeon and the orthoptists went so much smoother. You'll be able to judge the competency of the docs just by whether things go smoothly and you and your daughter are at ease. Good luck and feel free to write if you think I could answer more questions.



answers from Boston on

My son had eye surgery - not strabismus. He had a duct probe but I just wanted to let you know that he was 18 months and he handled the anes and everything very well. We had Dr Christine Morse here at Concord Hospital in Concord, NH. I work at the hospital and for 3 years I scheduled surgeries. I can tell you that Dr Morse and Dr Wheeler do an average of 4-5 strabismus surgeries a week and they are on kids/infants of all ages. From what I know they are very routine and the eyes are corrected. I know it can be scary, it was when I had to have my son's tear duct opened but talk everything over with your doctor and yes get a second opinion to make sure you are making the best choice for your child. Just know that even though it will still be scary for you and your child that these surgeries are very routine and eye doctors are very comfortable doing them. When we scheduled them they were in 1/2 hour blocks. The surgery is very quick and the recovery time post op is fast. My son was done in less than 5 minutes and he was out of the anes and having something to drink 20 minutes after he first went back. Hope this helps. Good luck!!



answers from Boston on

Yes, my son had the surgery. It went very well, and it corrected his eyes very well. He took it well. My son was 4. the surgery was at Darmouth in Lebanon, NH. but the doctor who did the surgery is now in Massachusetts, her name is alexandera but I can't remember her last name. I'm not sure where in Mass she is exactly. But she did a wonderful job.



answers from Boston on

My daughter has strabismus. We didn't get it diagnosed until she was 2 1/2. At that point we watched it for a while. My daughter also has Cerebral Palsy. So we finally decided to have the surgery when she was 4 1/2. We are in S.NH so we ended up with surgery in Concord, NH, the doctor is supposed to be the best but she was a little cold on the bedside manner, I am finding that with most surgeons. My daughter did awesome, the only problem that we had that I wish the dr had told me was that they did both of her eyes and she really couldn't open them/see right away. I would have prepared her if they had told me, but since your daughter is so young you won't be able to tell her. Recovery time was a day and she was fine, able to see and play around just like normal. And then 3 months later the dr wanted to do it again and I have continued to refuse that at this point, she is reading and she walks with a walker so sight is pretty important for her and she does fine. So, I would say that I don't think there is any reason to rush into it. Get a second opinion, I know there are lots of great doctors in Mass/boston area. Do your research! Good luck!



answers from Boston on

My daughter had this surgery when she was three of four years old. The surgery was very short and sweet. The surgery didn't seem to have an impact on her at all, except I had to put eyedrops in her eyes after the surgery (antibiotics). No child likes eyedrops. The white part of her eye was bright red after the surgery, but it was not painful in the least. It just looked weird. The surgery occurred at New England Medical Center in Boston.

We love her doctor. My daughter is 17 years old now, and we still see Dr. Jean Ramsey. I wouldn't think of taking her to anyone else. Dr. Ramsey is now at Boston Medical Center (Associate Dean, I believe). In my opinion, she's the best.

Good luck, and please don't worry.



answers from Springfield on


I haven't read the other responses but can provide my experience: 3 people in my family have had surgery to correct strabismus. It worked in my 2 daughters in Colorado Springs, but not with me. But that was 40 years ago... so nicely, they know more now and things have changed for the better.

My 3 year old had the surgery at age 2 and did great. Her left eye turned in and up. Now it's as close to perfect alignment as it will get and it's very good. The only tough thing for her was the anesthesia wearing off and the crankiness that lasted for hours. Also, it made her constipated and it was almost a week before she could go #2. Other than that, giving her eye drops in the left eye afterwards to prevent infection was slightly challenging because she freaked out every time we'd try to put them in. But overall the experience went well and her eyes healed well and she's much better for it. :) No regrets.

My 6 year old had surgery in both eyes because they both turned out. She eventually had to have her right eye re-done because the surgery over-corrected it. She tolerated both procedures much better than my younger daughter. Her eyes now are nearly perfect too. No regrets, no problems.

My left eye turned inward as a baby but the surgery overcorrected it and then it turned outward. My parents were wrongly advised to not have surgery again, so I've had a screwed up lazy eye ever since. I've been told I can try to have it fixed now but sadly the eyes are connected with the brain and my brain will probably not tolerate perfect alignment because it's never had it, so I'm gonna just keep my crazy eyes the way they are! But I implore you, as someone who has grown up with this problem it has made life quite challenging. I would not avoid the surgery out of fear. It WILL be much better for your little one. I speak from experience that having a lazy eye as an adult is not easy. I see 2 of everything and they're one right on top of each other, so reading is difficult unless I ignore one eye, driving it difficult unless I ignore one eye, etc. Please don't let your child grow up like this! It's not fun!

As for the doctor, go with the one that's recommended by other parents, moms, and your pediatrician. We go to the best "child eye doctor" in town and have no regrets.

Best of luck with everything and don't be afraid. Do your homework and get enough recommendations on a decent eye surgeon and you'll be in good hands.


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