Something I haven’t spoken about before on my blog is the fact I have strabismus (also commonly known as a squint). Strabismus is a condition where the eyes are misaligned, the misaligned eye or eyes can turn outward, inward, upwards, downwards or as in my case a combination of two. Strabismus can be constant where the eye is always turned out or as in my case it can be intermittent which means it only turns some of the time – when tired for example.
I first had surgery to correct the squint when I was 7 years old, I had the operation on my left and right eye according to my notes, although as far as I’m aware it only ever affected my left eye. I’m sure there was a reason back then for having surgery on both eyes, it’s quite incredible to think that was over 20 years go now.
After my first surgery everything was fine and I never had any problems with my eyes, apart from needing glasses during high school (which I never wore – oops). Then at around the age of 24 I became aware of my eyes not focusing properly and my left eye began to drift again. This really knocked my confidence, it got to the stage where I didn’t want to make eye contact with people and I started becoming really anxious about social situations, something that had never bothered me before. I hated sitting face on with people and having to make eye contact in case they noticed. At this point I decided I had to do something about it and went to see my GP to ask about having it corrected again.
When I attended my first hospital appointment my eyes were tested and the squint was measured to determine how bad it was. Once they had the necessary measurements I was referred to a consultant who would carry out the surgery. If I remember correctly from the first appointment to the operation it was around 12 months, in between that there were a lot of hospital appointments to check that the measurements hadn’t changed.
I had my second strabismus surgery in January 2015 to fix the horizontal movement of my left eye with further surgery for the vertical movement to be discussed later. The surgery went well and the consultant was really happy with the results which showed the horizontal movement had been corrected successfully.
The surgery itself was okay. I was grateful I didn’t have to have it adjusted whilst I was awake as that wasn’t something I was looking forward to. The worst bit was waking up and opening my eye straight after the operation. It felt like someone had been using a sander on my eye. Thankfully the pain quickly subsided after using some numbing drops which I was given to use for two weeks. My eye still felt quite uncomfortable/sore for around 4-5 days, the best way to describe it is that it felt like there was grit in my eye. Things were healing nicely and the pain was almost gone around a week on, unfortunately one of the stitches began irritating my eye and I had to see my consultant to have the stitch removed. This was painless, but having someone come at your eye with tweezers and a scalpel whilst you’re awake is a very unnerving experience.
After the stitch was removed my eye started healing up really well and around 3-4 weeks later things were pretty much back to normal with how it looked. The surgery can result in a bloodshot eye which can take up to 6 weeks to fade but I didn’t have a bloodshot eye, it was more redness so it faded pretty quickly.
I have to be completely honest and say that I didn’t notice much difference after the surgery, but I think that’s because I wanted to have the surgery for the vertical movement as that’s what was always noticeable to me. I never really noticed the horizontal movement much but when the before and after measurements were compared it’s clear to see it was there and has been corrected. I’m glad I had the surgery as it corrected the horizontal movement, I was just a little disappointed that the most noticeable vertical movement was still there.
After my eye had settled down I went to a post-op checkup. The checkup went well and the consultant was happy with the results after it had healed. I spoke with her about the fact I would like to see if the vertical movement could be corrected, the consultant wasn’t sure if it could be corrected because of past surgeries but she referred me to another consultant at another nearby hospital.
I saw the new consultant and to be honest things happened pretty quickly. I went to the hospital and had my eye measurements taken, I then met with the consultant who agreed to operate and seemed confident in being able to correct the movement. I attended a pre-op assessment where I had to answer a lot of questions regarding my history and any medical conditions (this is normal for anyone having an operation). Everything was okay, and I was then given a date for my surgery which was the 22nd of November 2016 (tomorrow – eek!).
I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty nervous. I don’t want to die – no really! I’m not worried about it being painful, I kind of know what to expect and the pain can be managed. I’m aware I sound a bit dramatic, but being put to sleep is quite scary. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m taken down to theatre early (I have to be at the hospital for 8) so things are over and done quickly. Having anxiety and waiting around don’t really go well.
I will be updating my strabismus journey with how the surgery goes and the healing process. I found reading about the surgery and recovery really useful when I was having surgery last time, so I hope that documenting my journey might help someone know what to expect.
And please know that if you have strabismus you’re not alone and there are options out there to help correct it. If you are an adult with Strabismus there are treatments available so don’t give up hope. There are people who will tell you nothing can be done, but this simply isn’t true. Although surgery for an adult might not make the eyes work together, it can improve the cosmetic appearance of the eye/s so they look straight, and this for me was/is a big thing.
So, that’s my story up until this point. I’m due to have what will hopefully be my last surgery tomorrow. I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m hoping it might be the happy ending to my strabismus story. I will be sharing my surgery and recovery journey too so do come back and have a read if you would like to know how that goes.
If you have any questions, whether you’re just curious about strabismus, or you’re due to have surgery yourself leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer any questions.