Strabismus, which is commonly referred to as crossed eyes, is a condition that is characterized by misalignment of the eyes. This HealthHearty article provides information on the procedure and cost of a strabismus surgery.
According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, approximately 4% of the pediatric population in the United States is affected by strabismus. In a human eye, there are six extraocular muscles that help rotate the eye about its vertical, horizontal, and antero-posterior axes. These are called medial rectus, lateral rectus, superior rectus, inferior rectus, superior oblique, and inferior oblique. When these six muscles are unable to work in tandem, it becomes difficult for both the eyes to focus on the same object. This leads to a condition that is commonly referred to as crossed eyes. This condition often affects children. It could be constant or intermittent. The misalignment could be inward (esotropia), outward (exotropia), upward (hypertropia), or downward (hypotropia).
Strabismus could even lead to amblyopia or lazy eye. Basically, when there’s misalignment of the eyes, the brain receives two different visual images. In order to avoid double vision, the brain may ignore the image from the misaligned eye, which in turn causes reduced visual acuity in the affected eye.
It’s advisable to seek medical assistance for correcting this condition. Orthoptics or non-surgical treatment options involve the correction of the misalignment by performing eye muscle exercises. Also, spectacles can be worn to correct vision-related problems. For quick results, especially in cases where the angle of deviation is large, a surgery can be performed. Before the surgical procedure is performed, the surgeon makes an assessment regarding the correction that needs to be done. The following sections provide information on the factors that affect the cost of this surgical procedure.
How Much Does a Strabismus Surgery Cost
The cost of a strabismus surgery would vary depending on several factors. These include:
- Location of the hospital
- Surgeon’s charges
- Equipment used in the surgery
- Cost of anesthesia
- Anesthesiologist’s charges
- Insurance plan
The cost could vary from region to region. It’s possible that the hospitals that are located in urban and metropolitan areas charge more. Thus, it’s advisable to conduct thorough research to find a hospital that charges less. However, look for a hospital that offers good services at a lower cost.
It must be noted that this surgery is not a cosmetic surgery. This surgery helps lower the risk of lazy eye, which is a medical condition that could cause functional disability. Thus, most insurance companies would cover this surgery. In some cases, the insurance company might not cover the entire cost, and you might have to shell out the rest from your pocket.
The cost could also depend on the surgeon. An experienced surgeon who is highly qualified, and has conducted several such surgeries successfully might charge more. Your health insurance might affect your choice regarding the surgeons and hospitals you could opt for. Thus, make a well-informed choice, when it comes to selecting the hospital. Make sure that the hospital is known for offering good services. The risk of complications would decrease, if the surgery is performed by an experienced surgeon.
The cost is likely to be higher in complicated cases wherein the surgical correction would require more time. At times, more than one surgery might be required to correct this eye problem. Under such circumstances, the overall cost of the treatment would also increase. The aftercare measures might include the use of spectacles and administration of antibiotic drops. The cost can range between USD 2,000 and USD 6,000. On an average, the cost of this surgical procedure could be around USD 3,000. However, the cost could go up to USD 15,000 in complex cases.
Strabismus surgery is an outpatient surgery. It lasts for a few hours, and the patient can go home within a few hours after the surgery. It is advisable to get the surgery done at a younger age. The surgical procedure involves the administration of general anesthesia, especially when the surgery is performed on a child. In case of adults, the surgeon might choose to perform the surgery after administering an injectable local anesthetic or anesthetic eye drops.
During this surgery, a small incision is made in the outer covering of the eye in order to get access to the extraocular muscles. Thereafter, the correction is made. The extraocular muscle that is responsible for causing the misalignment is separated from the eye. The surgery might involve weakening or tightening the muscle. To tighten the muscle, a piece of the muscle is removed from the point of insertion. Thereafter, the muscle is reattached to the point of insertion. In order to weaken the muscle, the muscle is removed from its attachment, and moved backward and reattached. In some cases, the muscle might have to be repositioned, which means that the area where the muscle inserts into, is changed. Thereafter, the muscle is reattached at the new position with tiny sutures. The eye muscles are then realigned with the help of fine stitches.
On an average, the recovery time for this surgery is around six to eight weeks. During the first two weeks, one should be extremely cautious. Make sure that nothing gets into the eyes. One should avoid activities such as swimming for the first couple of weeks. Aftercare measures must be followed to speed up the recovery process. Over-correction, under-correction, infection, scleral perforation, double vision, other vision-related problems, etc., are some of the risks associated with the surgery. So, go for follow-up visits, and inform your healthcare provider or surgeon about any adverse effects that you might have experienced.
On a concluding note, a strabismus surgery would not only improve one’s appearance, but also help in preventing vision-related problems. It’s advisable to find an experienced surgeon who has performed this surgery. In order to cut down on the cost, you could look for hospitals that offer financial assistance programs. If you have a health insurance plan, consult your insurance company to find out if this surgery is covered. In case of a mild misalignment, it’s advisable to first check out the non-surgical treatment options.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. The costs are subject to change, and might differ from region to region.