more like a party eye
September 13, 2017 7:44 AM   Subscribe

I have a lazy eye. is it too late to fix it?

born cross-eyed, now wall-eyed. i had surgery as an infant, and wore a patch a few times as a kid. didn't get much medical treatment as a kid, but started wearing glasses at 22. one eye is very far-sighted, the other is slightly near-sighted. without glasses, i switched eyes on and off depending on distance. i still switch, but less obviously. I worry I overuse the eye with better vision now that it can see distances. I think I totally lack binocular vision, but I've never known anything else.

I'm now edging up on 30 and I'm wondering if it's too late to have binocular vision. seeing things in 3D sounds cool. but I'm not interested in undergoing surgery or anything too extreme - my vision is fine. i can't catch a ball but that doesn't really inhibit my life. my insurance sucks, but i could potentially shell out for treatment. in Atlanta, if it matters.
posted by quadrilaterals to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I developed the problem in my early teens, and successfully regained binocular vision with no issues at age 28. The worst side effect was having my eyes be really bloodshot for a couple of weeks. So, with the caveat that n = 1 here, no, probably not too late. I'm 36 now and the results of the procedure have 'stuck' with no signs of regression. Sometimes the eyes will try to deviate slightly when I get tired and I'll have momentary double vision, but the way the muscle was cut basically prevents it from going very far.

It did take two procedures to get the full correction for me, though; my deviation was large enough that the surgeon was only comfortable correcting it by a certain number of degrees at a time. I think the procedures were about six months apart and the recovery was pretty swift. I was a grad student at the time so I had it done during breaks, had a week to recover each time and it was fine.
posted by Kosh at 9:24 AM on September 13, 2017

It seems worth a consult with an opthamologist at the very least. This may or may not be covered by your health insurance, but likely is unless it is specifically excluded (you would have to look at the exclusions in your certificate of coverage). If it is covered, you could owe either a specialist copay (usually $40-$100) or you could owe the full discounted cost of the visit (usually around $300 IME). if it is not covered you may be able to negotiate a similar rate as a cash discount. They may recommend surgery but that doesn't mean you have to have surgery. You can ask what other non-surgical treatments are available and what are the chances of improvement.

It is NOT too late to get treatment. A good friend of mine is getting treatment for cross-eye right now and he is older than thirty. Treatment can take longer in older patients and could require multi-modal therapy (vision therapy + special glasses, therapy + surgery, etc) but your brain is still plastic at every age. My friend is currently wearing special prismatic glasses and he says that he was surprised at how much easier and less tiring some things are now than before, especially driving. Like you I don't think he recognized how affected he was.

One caution from his experience - he first saw an optometrist and they strongly recommended Vision Therapy and sort of denigrated surgery (since optometrists can only do vision therapy). He then saw an opthamologist and they strongly recommended surgery and were skeptical about the likelihood of Vision Therapy. He finally got a third opinion from an ophthalmologist expert in his specific diagnosis who offered him a more nuanced take on the surgical and non-surgical options for his specific condition.
posted by muddgirl at 9:26 AM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

My ex had this done at around 40, and got good results. We were able to find a doc in our state with about 10,000 such surgeries to his credit, and based on others' feedback, that experience really mattered.
posted by Caxton1476 at 10:13 AM on September 13, 2017

Response by poster: I guess I'm also unsure what "fixing" it means - as stated above, I do not want surgery. what are these other therapies and treatments? I have never seen a doctor on this; my current insurance wouldn't cover this.
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:22 PM on September 13, 2017

It's literally called "Vision Therapy," sorry if that was unclear from my comment. It's offered by trained optometrists.
posted by muddgirl at 5:48 AM on September 14, 2017

Yeah, I'm in the same boat. It's definitely not too late. I've talked to many ophthalmologists over the years (like muddgirl said, some folks only wanted me to get surgery and others said vision therapy was worth a shot) and even started vision therapy at one point (it involved getting prism glasses and doing some eye exercises) but the vision therapist went AWOL after one visit and I just kind of dropped the ball. I'm skeptical about the possibility of really gaining stereopsis, but you know, it's really not that big of a deal. My partner has no eye muscle issues and he doesn't have 3D vision either, for no apparent reason. It's never limited either of us in any way. Anyway, if you can find someone, vision therapy is the non-surgical thing to do.
posted by karbonokapi at 9:44 PM on September 14, 2017

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