In strabismus surgery, the ophthalmologist makes a small incision in the tissue covering the eye to access the eye muscles. Certain muscles are repositioned during the surgery depending on the direction the eye is turning. If a muscle needs to be weakened, it is moved further back (recession). If the muscle needs to be strengthened, it is shortened and then sewn back into place (resection). It may be necessary to perform surgery on both eyes. When strabismus surgery is performed on children, a general anesthetic is required. Local anesthesia is often an option for adults.
If surgical treatment is indicated to correct strabismus, early surgery is recommended because infants and young children can develop normal sight and binocular vision once the eyes are straightened. The chance of developing normal sight and binocular vision decreases as a person gets older although surgery at any age may result in improved side vision.