“Life changing surgery comes in all shapes and sizes," wrote Ryan Williams in a recent post on Reddit about the procedure he had to correct his lazy eye. "[Twenty-four] years of insecurity and I can finally start living my life properly."
Williams shared before-and-after pictures of his face on March 21, one week after his eye muscle surgery; and then at the request of other Reddit users, he posted a third photo over the weekend, to show the progress of his recovery since the operation.
Williams, 25, says his left eye turned inward when he was one year old. He told Health in an email that all his life, he hated meeting new people, "in case they looked at the wrong eye and asked the dreaded 'are you talking to me,' which is only slightly better than photographers telling you again and again to look at the camera."
Having a lazy or crossed eye is a condition technically known as strabismus-and it can occur in different forms, explains Dallas-based optometrist Janelle Routhier, OD. In a common type called accommodative esotropia, one eye has to focus especially hard to see clearly, and turns inward as a result. In another form, called intermittent exotropia, both eyes are unable to look at the same place at the same time, and the weaker eye turns outward.
There are various treatments for strabismus, including specialized glasses and vision therapy, in which a doctor prescribes exercises to improve eye coordination and focusing. The activities might involve wearing an eye patch, says Dr. Routhier, who is the senior director of customer development at Essilor: "Eye patches that cover the stronger eye force the weaker one to see better."
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But if those treatments don't help, correction surgery may be an option: A highly delicate operation, it involves adjusting the muscles around the eye, Dr. Routhier explains.
Williams says his procedure took less than an hour. He was sent home with antibiotic and steroid eye drops to reduce swelling and redness. “[I]t's been 3 weeks since my op and I can't help but smile every time I look in the mirror,” Williams says. “I’m no longer scared to approach strangers and no longer have the constant fear in the back of my head when talking to people that they are going to mention it.”
Williams has a message for families affected by strabismus: "If any parents were considering the surgery for their child but then decide to leave it for their child to decide when they are older, I would strongly suggest to do it," he says. "It will change your child's life."
The surgery has done that for Williams: "I have always suffered from low confidence because of my eye and the difference I feel already now that it is fixed is amazing."