What is strabismus surgery?

Tomorrow is George’s surgery, and since it’s absolutely impossible to show you what it’s all about without photos, I got the guys to move the luggage and found my adapter.



Before I can explain what they’re going to do to George, let me explain what strabismus is all about so that it makes sense.  Here’s George.  What I want you to notice in this picture is that his head is angled away from where he’s looking… he has to do that to make both eyes face forward.  Noticing this head-turn thing is really important because it’s often the earliest sign that a child has vision issues.  It’s nice that George has worked out a way to see with both eyes, but turning your head away from what your hands are doing makes it hard to accomplish things when you have to watch what you’re doing.  Anyway, you can see that his left eye is turning in.


If your sister tries to trick you into turning your face forward, you just might tilt your head to make some of the other eye muscles work harder.


George is also supposed to be wearing glasses… which is an impossible feat… so he’s also learned the trick of squinting his eyelids almost closed to be able to focus better.  But notice that his face is turned, as usual…


Emily and I tried lots of things to get him to have his eyes open while directly facing the camera so that I can show you about light reflections… Emily wanted to see if holding him upside down might work.  No luck.


All we accomplished with that was getting him annoyed with Emily, so he decided to grab her nose for revenge.  However, you can see in this photo that now his right eye is the one turning in.  This is important.  Before he could have his surgery, we had to use patches and drops to get both eyes equally strong… (or I guess you could think of it as equally weak 🙂


Finally we got him sort of straight on… you can tell because you can see the tops of both ears.  Now I want you to look at the little tiny white light reflections on the pupils of his eyes.  See how they’re not in the same place in each eye?  The one on his right eye is near the edge and the one on his left eye is in the middle.  That’s another clue that doctors use to determine if a baby is having troubles with his vision.


George says he’s done with the photos.  So it’s time to talk about the surgery.


Tomorrow morning at 7:30 Dr. Saunders, a pediatric neuro-ophthalmologist, will open up both of George’s eyes and find the muscle inside called the medial rectus muscle.  He’ll cut that muscle where it attaches to George’s eyeball, and move it back a VERY precise number of microns  (… this is all done with magnification, obviously… ophthalmologists know lots about magnification…)  Dr. Saunders knows exactly how far to move the muscle because he has measured the angle that each eye turns in.  Remember all that trigonometry from high school?  This is why it’s important that doctors are smart at math.

Then he reattaches the muscles at just the right spot, and sews up George’s eyes.  When George wakes up his eyes will be a little red and sore… so our BIG job will be keeping him from rubbing his eyes. 

The cookies in the oven are beeping… now that I’ve found my adapter, though, I’ll be able to show you pictures tomorrow of how we keep George’s hands away from his face.  Or maybe I’ll finally tell you about the rest of Sock Summit… I think Sock Summit might be more fun for me AND George.

16 thoughts on “What is strabismus surgery?

  1. sweet baby, keeping him and you in my prayers. Our oldest , now 12, has had two eye surgeries. once at 1 1/2 and then again at age 4. She had alternating esotropia. All of her baby pictures of her are similar to your little George. I will ask my children to pray for the surgery and for the Doctor’s hands.
    Blessings, Emily Snow

    • hello snowbabies…I am cherryl from the Phil. My baby has an alternating esotropia and underwent her surgery feb. of this year. We observed that she still has intermittent crossing and we are open to the idea that she might undergo another surgery in time. May I ask how is your oldest now? I am really concern with my daughter’s condition. To her positive outcomes from parents undergoing the same experience will help me a lot. Thanks.

  2. The pictures of George are wonderful. Thank you for explaining the surgery so that even I could fully understand what is going to happen tomorrow. Of course, my prayers are with you, and also for WC and Ian. For all of you, actually. Nancy

  3. wow, it’s scary and kind of exciting at the same time! i pray for his surgeons and all those who will care for him tomorrow, and i pray for little george, and i pray for his loving family.

    have you seen the movie “up” yet? if so, you know what the “collar of shame” is. perhaps that would work for george (KIDDING!). but i might or might not have let ella put on the collar of shame that we used on our dog coal–which ella renamed it the “collar of protection” because shame is bad. 🙂

    love, rowena___.

  4. I’ll pray. I LOVE these photos! George is so precious! My 17 yo, David, had strabismus surgery when he was 11 months old. My Mom still talks about the way he looked at the world that first day after the surgery. His eyes were almost completely crossed before surgery–and his little face expressed his wonder–“whoa! what happened here!!”

    Love, Annie

  5. Elizabeth, thank you for the photos and the terrific explanation of the surgery. You and Emily worked hard on that so we could understand. Just think how exciting it will be for George to discover his “new” world. BTW, his hair cut is adorable! He looks older.

    Prayers to you and your family as well as the families of Sam’s friends and all the doctors, nurses and aides working with the three kids.

    Hope Brian did well this weekend, too.

  6. Elizabeth — I will be praying for George tomorrow. My 85 year old mom is also having eye surgery tomorrow! We’ll be praying the Rosary for both of them. God bless you, Michele F. in Michigan

  7. What precious pictures of George…and Emily! (Hope George doesn’t get mad at her often!) You know I love your pictures!

    Prayers are being said for that sweet boy and his special family and of course for Ian and WC!

    Love and prayers!

  8. WOW! I had the same surgeries at 2 & 3 (yes over 40 years ago). I guess back in the olden days they did not do both eyes at the same time.

    I can still remember bits and peices of the 2nd surgery – It was Christmas time and an Num came and gave me a Nun doll!

    Today I still have an eye that strays. I guess as a child I lost my glasses one too may times!

    George and the family will be in our prayers!

  9. I just found your blog and your George is adorable! He reminds me of my son who had two strabismus surgeries, at 13 months and at 2.5 years. His eyes are perfect today 🙂 Hang in there, we found that the kid bounced back in no time but my husband and I were wiped out! Prayers for you all.

  10. Elizabeth, I’m just catching up on your blog. I’m so glad George’s surgery turned out well! You are one brave mama. You must have grown strong through so many things you’ve gone through. I feel like a naive, innocent pipsqueak of a mom compared to you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: