Lazy Eye Surgery

Some children experience a delay in binocular vision and one eye may not work as effectively as the other eye in receiving and sending messages to the brain. The resulting condition is known as amblyopia (known as lazy eye) where the eyes are unable to work together to form one image and strabismus, most commonly known as cross eye. It affects approximately 2-3% of all children. For these children early intervention may assist the doctors to treat the condition with exercise but for others lazy eye surgery is the only treatment of choice. Lazy Eye can affect older people who have not been treated when the condition develops in childhood.

Lazy Eye Surgery

What is Lazy Eye Surgery?

When a child requires surgery for this eye condition, it is usually because medical treatments, typically exercises for the eye and possibly using an eye patch and correction spectacles for part or all of the day has been ineffective.  The child has what is popularly known as “cross eyes”.  A child with lazy eye cannot see clearly or at all through the eye that has been affected by the condition. The severity of the condition and therefore the likelihood of the need for surgical intervention increases with the age of the child.

Lazy Eye Surgery Procedure

Surgery itself will not correct the vision, but will provide an aesthetically normal looking eye that does not “cross” when the child focuses on an object.  Only 20% of children who require the surgery will eventually have normal vision through both eyes.  The younger the child is at time of diagnosis, the more chance there is that a combination of therapy and surgery will assist the child to develop normal vision.

Surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and means the child must be hospitalised.  The operation itself is intended to align the two eyes so they appear normal visually, however very rarely will the operation create an improved eye sight.  A percentage of patients will require repeat surgery in later years if the condition returns.  It is important to continue to have eye sight checked regularly by an optomologist as on-going vision problems may continue and may require corrective spectacles or other treatment as a follow up to the eye surgery.

Costs of Lazy Eye Surgery

The NHS will cover the cost of elective surgery for improving a lazy eye.  In most cases all costs are covered associated with treatment, surgery and follow up.  Private consultation is available and price will vary according to the doctor and clinic consulted.  It is worth contacting more than one clinic to compare the costs and to discuss options with private health insurance providers if it is available.  Some clinics provide finance to assist with the cost of eye surgery spread over a period of time or years.

Lazy eye surgery is a useful means of reducing the severity of double vision and increasing the self confidence in children and when associated with successful treatment under 10 years of age, many children will lead normal lives with no on-going visual problems.