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Strabismus surgery can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 without insurance. (Learn More)
The good news is that insurance will generally cover the surgery, greatly offsetting the out-of-pocket cost.
Factors That Influence the Cost
The cost of strabismus surgery depends on several factors, including the level of severity and whether or not your insurance will cover all or part of the procedure. Other factors that influence cost include:
- Hospital location.
- Whether your surgeon is in or out of your insurance network.
- Presurgical care and possible aftercare.
- Anesthesia or sedation.
- Nurses or additional surgeons (rare in strabismus surgery).
- Surgeon fees.
Strabismus surgery is never considered a cosmetic surgery, as it is considered medically necessary. Anyone who is told they need it should experience little to no pushback from their insurance company about whether they will cover at least part of the overall cost.
If you don’t have health insurance, this will greatly increase your out-of-pocket costs. In some cases, facilities are willing to reduce fees for those who don’t have insurance.
On average, strabismus surgery costs between $5,000 and $10,000. Severe or complex cases, such as when corrections need to be made from a prior surgery, may garner higher costs.
What Is Strabismus?
Often referred to as crossed eyes, strabismus prevents the eyes from aligning correctly. The condition is characterized by having eyes that appear to look at things in different directions.
Six eye muscles help your eyes move up, down, side to side, and at angles. In some people, not all muscles work together, which may cause strabismus.
In addition to changing the way eyes should be aligned, this causes changes in the way the brain receives visual information. This can affect depth perception and the ability to use binocular vision. It can even lead to vision loss.
Many people are born with strabismus, but adults can become affected by the condition. Adults who develop it are usually people who:
- Were not diagnosed as children.
- Had head injuries or other accidents or eye damage.
- Had ailments, such as diabetes, stroke, brain tumors, Graves’ disease, or Myasthenia gravis.
How Surgery Corrects Strabismus
Surgery is the most common treatment for strabismus, and more than one procedure may be required depending on the severity of the case. Per the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, procedures typically follow these steps:
- The surgeon identifies the affected muscles that result in poor eye alignment.
- They then remove extra muscle and suture the remaining muscle.
- The muscle is then folded (plication) or removed altogether.
- The muscle is then attached to the eye once more.
Once this part of the surgery is finished, the surgeon must decide which type of suture will work best to ensure that the eyes are in the best possible position for as long as possible. There are two options they may choose depending on the type of strabismus surgery.
- Standard strabismus surgery: A permanent knot will be made at the end of the surgery.
- Adjustable suture technique: This allows the surgeon to create a temporary knot that can be readjusted, usually within a few minutes or days after the surgery, depending on the length of adjustment time necessary for the patient. Until adjustments are performed, the patient will wear a patch over their eye.
Cost may vary somewhat according to the type of surgical technique used.
Surgery will include anesthesia or sedation, and this will also affect the overall cost. Children who receive strabismus surgery are usually completely sedated, while adults generally receive localized anesthesia.
Once surgery is finished, a steroid and/or antibiotic eye drop will be applied to the eye. Some patients may receive an eye drop prescription as well. There will be fees for these prescriptions. If you have insurance, you will generally only pay your prescription copay amount.
Are There Alternative Treatments?
Not everyone with strabismus will need surgery. If your case of strabismus qualifies for nonsurgical treatment, you will save a good amount of money on treatment.
Treatments for milder cases of strabismus can include:
Eye exercises.These exercises help both eyes focus on the same point and improve their coordination.
Prescription eyewear.Glasses or contacts are often the first course of treatment for this condition.
Patching.A patch is used over the stronger eye for several hours per day. This usually helps the brain better use the weaker eye and improves both alignment and binocular vision.
Botox injections. Botox has been shown toBotox has been shown to help children who have had strabismus correction surgery but did not experience complete correction from the procedure. For adults, Botox is used to weaken the muscle so the eye returns to its proper position.
Before you commit to surgery, talk to your insurance provider as well as your chosen surgeon’s office to learn the exact cost of the procedure. You can then get specifics on what your out-of-pocket costs will be so there are no surprises down the road.
What Is Adult Strabismus? (May 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Strabismus Surgery. (March 2019). American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology Strabismus (AAPOS).
Lazy Eye Treatment Cost. CostHelper Health.
Adult Strabismus Treatment. (May 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Strabismus Treatments. (2020). Boston Children’s Hospital.
Lazy Eye and Strabismus Surgery. The Pricer.
How Much of Your Surgery Will Insurance Cover. (July 2020). Verywell Health.