If you or a loved one is thinking about squint surgery, you’re not alone. According to the Royal College of Opththalmologists (RCO), 4% of adults and 2% of all children in the UK suffer a squint – or strabismus, to give it its technical name.
And as more and more people understand the safe treatments available to help correct this debilitating condition, squint surgeries too are on the rise. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) report 11,955 operations in the UK between 2015 and 2016, and this number is growing each year.
But how much will squint eye surgery cost you? What are the alternative treatments available? And what are the risks involved? Read on for the full answers, and find a trusted clinic near you with our tool if you’d like to talk more with an eye specialist.
In this article, you will learn:
- How Much Does Squint Surgery Cost?
- What Squint Treatments Are Available?
- What Are the Risks and Success Rates?
- What Exactly Is A Squint?
- Find A Squint Surgery Quote
1. Squint Surgery Cost
According to the RCO, squint surgery costs between £1,000 and £1,600 for adults as well as children. At Moorfields Private Eye Hospital, for example, the average price for strabismus surgery is £1,343. But the costs will vary from clinic to clinic, so you’ll want a personalised quote.
- Minimum cost of squint surgery: £1,000
- Maximum cost of squint surgery: £1,600
- Average cost of squint surgery: £1,343
And what does not treating squint surgery cost? Of course, the costs are not always financial. The General Medical Council (GMC) recommends considering patients for surgery, even if they do not experience double vision. That’s because a squint is a debilitating condition that deserves treating – if the patient seeks it – as a priority to fend off physical as well as emotional side effects.
It’s important, therefore, not just to consider the price tag of squint correction surgery. There is clearly a social cost to not helping people enjoy a full quality of life.
Is squint surgery available of the NHS? Yes, the NHS will consider patients for squint correction surgery. If glasses cannot correct your squint, you can explore your options with a GP. That said, many people still bypass the NHS, prefering to receive treatment sooner, and find an eye surgeon they are comfortable with.
Is squint surgery covered by insurance? Yes, most medical healthcare providers will cover the costs of strabismus surgery, including assessment, treatment, and aftercare. That’s because leading medical bodies – including the RCO – consider fixing misaligned eyes a ‘reconstructive’ rather than ‘cosmetic’ procedure.
☝ Find a top-rated squint surgery clinic near you, and receive a personalised quote with our simple quote tool here.
2. Squint Treatments
There are surgical and non-surgical treatments available to help correct squints. Non-surgical options include prism lenses and eye exercises. The RCO, however, claims that surgery is necessary in many cases to achieve meaningful results. The RCO’s own clinical evidence shows that squint surgery is very safe, and can be highly effective when it is appropriate.
Unlike lazy eye treatment (which is most effective before the age of eight), studies demonstrate that strabismus surgery can even help patients with long-term symptoms make a full recovery. The main aims of vision correction include:
- Seeing clearly through both eyes (binocular vision)
- Re-aligned eyes
- The correct head posture (for those who were tilting their head to compensate for the squint)
- An end to eye strain (asthenopia), and the headaches this can cause
- Freedom from psychological issues (such as low self-esteem) and social issues (such as discrimination at work) as a result of the condition
To understand the full treatment options available to you personally, it is a good idea to speak to a qualified orthoptist – an expert in how the eyes work together – at a reputable eye hospital near you.
No-Surgery Squint Treatments
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) suggests some common ways of treating squints in adults as well as children. Besides surgery, the main options include:
- Glasses are often the first point-of-call for correcting vision. When prescribed by an optometrist, glasses can help stop a squint from developing into a lazy eye.
- Eye patches are also called occlusion therapy. While they cannot outright cure strabismus, they can improve the vision by covering the “good” eye, and allowing the “weaker” eye to build stronger connections between the eye and the brain.
- Eye exercises can help some patients with minor squints to retrain their eyes to work better together. Some eye specialists will recommend combining this treatment with surgery or glasses.
- Botox (Botulinum toxic injection) works by weakening certain eye muscles to help re-align the eyes. As with most Botox, however, the effects are not permanent, so this treatment may only come as a last resort.
Squint Surgery Explained
Am I eligible for squint surgery?
The only way to find out whether squint correction surgery may be right for you is to book a pre-operative assessment at a trusted clinic. There you’ll receive the full eye tests to check whether you’d make a good candidate for surgery. And you’ll have the opportunity to ask anything that’s bugging you.
How does squint surgery work?
Squint surgery takes under an hour, and you’ll be back home the same day. The treatment uses general anaesthetic, meaning you or your child will be fast sleep. With your eyes safely secured open, the surgeon will detach part of your eye muscle, and fix it in a new position using soluble stitches tucked behind the eye.
How do I recover from squint surgery?
It’s a good idea to ask someone to escort you on the day of surgery, as you may be sleepy, and won’t be able to drive for the next couple of days. You can expect a mild discomfort in your eyes – as though you had an eyelash in them – for the first few days, which eye drops can help relieve.
Apart from that, some people experience red or itchy eyes for up to a few weeks, or double vision for the first week, but these will usually pass on their own. Always ensure you attend your check-ups with an eye specialist.
3. Squint Eye Surgery Success Rates
Squint eye surgery has extremely high success rates, although no surgery is without risks, of course. The NHS puts the risk of serious complications following strabismus surgery at 0.0025%, meaning it affects 2 to 3 in every 1,000 procedures.
For many of the most common side effects, further surgery can help correct these visual impairments. For example, severe strabismus may require touch-up surgery to perfect the eyes’ alignment fully. In some cases, eye muscles may change position in time, and further surgery can put them back where they belong.
Other risks include: a mild eye infection, and a small hole caused by the re-stitching of the eye muscles, both of which respond well to antibiotics. And as with all eye surgery, the actual risk of vision loss is extremely rare.
So is squint surgery safe? These are the risks of squint surgery, according to a BOSU study of 24,000 strabismus surgeries performed in the UK between 2008 and 2010:
- Risk of eye globe perforation: 0.08%
- Risk of suspected slipped muscle: 0.07%
- Risk of severe infection: 0.06%
- Risk of scleritis (a serious inflammation of the outer eye): 0.02%
- Risk of lost muscle: 0.02%
You can see that the risks involved are extremely low. That said, you’ll always want to speak to your ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) before the procedure to check you are comfortable with the success rate, as they can vary based on your current eye health.
Squint Side Effects
What are the risks to not seeking help? If left untreated, squints can cause a number of visual issues, including double vision, visual confusion, loss of three-dimensional vision, and binocularity (both eyes working well together), eye strain, and headaches.
That’s, of course, not to mention the non-physical – but no less important – side effects, such as reduced independence (if you cannot drive), low self-esteem, and potential discrimination in the wider world.
4. What Exactly Is A Squint?
Put simply, a squint is a misalignment of the two eyes. Some people experience strabismus from birth, but you can develop the condition at any time in life.
What causes strabismus? Still no study has been able to identify a direct cause for strabismus. Although anyone – adults and children – can suffer from a squint, it is more likely to occur in families with a history of this and other visual or neurological issues.
What are the different types of squints? Most sufferers experience horizontal squints, where the eye turns in (estropia or convergent) or out (extrotropia or divergent). Less common is vertical strabismus, where the eye turns upwards (hypertropia) or downwards (hypotropia). The rarest kind of all is torsional strabismus, where the eyes are rotated.
5. Where Can I Find a Quote?
Effectively treating squints can have a life-changing impact – not just in terms of vision correction, but also on that person’s day-to-day well-being and confidence. That’s why the RCO describes strabismus as ‘reconstructive’ rather than ‘cosmetic’ surgery.
Since people who have treated their squint enjoy a richer life for many years, NICE categorises strabismus surgery as cost-effective. What’s more, the RCO considers squint surgery one of the safest vision correction treatments available.
If you would like to talk to an eye expert in your area about the different treatment options available to you, and benefit from free eye tests worth £880, Lasik Eyes can help get you started.
☝ Next steps: Find a top-rated eye surgery clinic near you, and receive a personalised quote using our simple quote tool here.