After strabismus surgery: A guide for parents

Outpatient surgery: General post-op information

Most children tolerate strabismus surgery well. Much of the discomfort occurs within the first 12 to 24 hours, and most children can resume normal activities the next day.

woman-doctor-clipboard-hospital-surgeryThese are normal changes you will likely see immediately after the operation:

1) Most children prefer to keep their eyes closed for 12 to 24 hours after surgery. This is normal. You do not need to encourage your child to open his or her eyes sooner.

2) Crusting of the eyelashes upon awakening in the morning is normal for the first few days. You may wipe this away with a clean, warm, washcloth.

3) Your child may have bloody tears for 12 to 24 hours. You may wipe this away with a clean tissue or washcloth.

4) Expect your child’s eyes to be swollen and red for 4 to 6 weeks. This gradually improves.

5) Most children are sleepy and cranky immediately after surgery. This may last 12 hours or more. You may use children’s ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) to help with your child’s discomfort.

6) Some children have post-operative nausea and vomiting. This tends not to be too much of a problem. Usually, we give a medicine during surgery to help prevent this.

Contact your child’s caregiver if…

These are rare symptoms. Please contact your child’s doctor us immediately if you notice any of them.

  • persistent fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • extreme irritability or lethargy; your child is difficult to rouse
  • increasing redness, swelling, tearing, or pain
  • persistent discharge from the eyes (crusting of the lashes is normal)
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Post-operative medications

  • eye drops: These are antibiotics/anti-inflammatory drops. Place one drop in each affected eye (or eyes) three times a day for 1 week.
  • children’s ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin): Use the recommended dosage on the bottle as needed.


  • Your child should not swim for 2 weeks.
  • Please try to keep water out of your child’s eyes during baths.
  • Otherwise, your child may resume all other activities as soon as he or she feels up to it. This includes attending school and playing outdoors.

Note: This information was prepared for patients participating in clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, and is not necessarily applicable to individuals who are patients elsewhere. If you have questions about the information presented here, talk to a member of your healthcare team.

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