Surviving a Second Lazy Eye Amblyopia Surgery
Severe cases of lazy eye are more likely to require a second surgery to correct. Early cases requiring surgery before the age of 10 are more likely to require a second surgery.
Congenital cases and those that develop before the age of 4 are more likely to require a second and even third lazy eye surgery?
The second time your child has amblyopia surgery is different from the first, both in recovery time and the child's understanding. What can parents do to help their children survive lazy eye surgery, round 2?
I can write about this subject from personal experience, since I personally had to have two lazy eye surgeries, as did my eldest daughter as a child.
Solutions for the Second Surgery
- What can a parent say when a child cries "we've already done this, why do we need to do it again?" The answer should be honest but not blunt. The first surgery didn't correct the problem enough. As we grow, we change, and the problem reoccurred.
- Ask your child to write down their questions. Then encourage your child to ask the doctor their own questions.
- Encourage children to write a list of their fears. Then go through the list and come up with an action plan to alleviate those fears. Are they afraid of not being able to see? Discuss what can be done to make the house more amenable to someone who cannot see well. What activities will be affected by low vision during recovery? If your child will have to sit out sports for a week or two while healing, can they fill in as a score keeper or join the pep squad?
- Teenagers and older children are more sensitive to their appearance than young children. The surgery may seem a relief when told this will correct their vision and how their eyes look. However, they should be fully informed of the dark circles under their eyes, that there is no cosmetic surgery involved and the possible blood red appearance of an eye if a capillary breaks. The surgery will fix their eyes, but it will not solve any other body image problems.
- Increased age increases recovery time. A child who bounced back at 3 and was running around the house three days after surgery may take a week to be able to read and two weeks to no longer have double vision when surgery occurs at age 13.
- Teenagers having lazy eye surgery should not drive for several weeks, often for several months. While their eye alignment is corrected and their vision heals, double vision can occur. In some cases, the eyes take a fraction of a second to adjust after each blink, causing the teen to see gray until the world comes back into focus, an unsafe condition when you want to drive. Halt any driving lessons or actual driving for at least a month. Arrange alternate transportation if necessary.
- Computers and gadgets have pervaded our world, especially for children and teenagers. The small text and icons are difficult to read for the first days after lazy eye surgery. When recovering from lazy eye surgery, switch the cell phone or web browser to show very large text and icons.
- Do not undermine the child's confidence in the doctor or medicine in general. The corrective surgery is not the result of the doctor's mistake last time. If parents malign the doctor's performance, either past or present, the child is less likely to obey medical advice after surgery.
- For younger children, console them that this is not a punishment, merely something that must be done. Nor should parents describe the surgery as a horrible ordeal to overcome, since this heightens their anxiety about the procedure.
- Plan the surgery for the summer, to maximize recovery time before academic work is necessary. If you don't have that option, contact the school to utilize services for the visually impaired until your child's vision is back to normal. Audio versions of text books and required reading are invaluable when the world is a blur.
- Tour the hospital and meet the surgeon, if that is allowed.
- Help the child understand where they will go and what will be done, so that they are less afraid of the procedure, and more importantly, what happens when they wake up.
- Know what to do if there is pain or potential infection before you go in.