A Parent Guide to Strabismus, Eye Muscle Surgery and Vision Therapy
I am proud to announce that my new book: A Parent Guide to Strabismus, Eye Muscle Surgery and Vision Therapy has just been released by the Optometric Extension Program Foundation.
Some years ago I got tired of hearing other doctors bad-mouthing behavioral optometry and vision therapy for treatment of strabismus (eye turns). None of these doctors had any firsthand experience with or factual knowledge of what behavioral optometry or vision therapy was about. All I kept hearing was that there was no proof that vision therapy worked, that there was no science behind it. I knew this to be untrue. I also knew just how well vision therapy worked for many people.
I finally decided to turn the tables and take a look at what I assumed was going to be extensive and unassailable research showing just how scientific and impressive eye muscle surgery for strabismus was. I found nothing of the sort. Even the most current medical literature shows more of the same. The philosophy and methods for strabismus surgery have changed little if at all for a hundred years, and the results are anything but impressive, particularly if we take a long view.
My main objective in writing this book was to provide comprehensive information. I believe people, especially parents of children with significant visual issues, should have all the available information before making important, permanent medical decisions. As I said, I was expecting to see a very scientific, consistent and reliable rationale for doing so many eye muscle surgeries. I was disillusioned. I was especially disappointed that intelligent professionals - who with all good intentions subject people to invasive, irreversible procedures - appear to have little or no interest in the long-term development and function of the visual system. Here is a quote from a medical journal: “Children younger than 10 will very likely need a second or third strabismus procedure to maintain the best possible eye alignment.” Knowing beforehand that a surgical procedure will have to be repeated doesn’t seem like a good starting point to me. Here’s another quote from a recent medical journal: “A surgical success was defined as perfect eye alignment or residual strabismus of less than 10 prism diopters.” Ten prism diopters is no small amount in my way of thinking, and it shouldn’t be in anyone’s. They don’t even specify the direction of the residual eye turn. Also, the perfect eye alignment they mention need only last a minute or two to be considered perfect. Such a perfect outcome might still require repeated surgery down the road.
As my book was going to print even more research was providing indisputable evidence that eye muscle surgery is generally not a good idea, at least not the way it has been done over the last century or so. The newest evidence confirms that the structure of the eye muscles cut during strabismus surgery is completely different than what it was previously assumed to be. This is one reason eye muscle surgery so often results in the need for more eye muscle surgery. I am hopeful that the medical community will embrace this new research. This will lead to more accurate, less damaging eye muscle surgery and to a better relationship between surgeons and those of us proving vision therapy. This will invariably result in much better outcomes for people in need of eye muscle surgery for strabismus, and fewer people getting strabismus surgery in the first place. I hope this happens sooner rather than later.
I was honored and fortunate to have Dr. Susan Barry, Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at Mount Holyoke College, and author of Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions, evaluate my book and then write the following review:
We think of standard medical care as constantly moving forward, providing more effective treatments from year to year. Yet, standard ophthalmological treatment for crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia) has hardly changed in the last century even though these treatments, patching and surgery, do not address the fundamental problems and rarely lead to stereovision. In A Parent Guide to Strabismus, Eye Muscle Surgery and Vision Therapy, Dr. Steve Gallop describes, in a clear and straightforward manner, a dramatically different, less invasive, and more effective approach to the treatment of strabismus and amblyopia involving lenses and vision therapy. This book is a must-read for anyone who suffers from a crossed or lazy eye and for the parents of a child with these conditions.
As Dr. Barry can attest, vision therapy already has a long and impressive history of helping people avoid eye muscle surgery and of improving the chances of keeping their eyes straight after eye muscle surgery. Most importantly, vision therapy helps people use their two eyes in a more coordinated way - as they were meant to be. I did vision therapy as an adult. My daughter was able to avoid eye muscle surgery thanks to vision therapy as a young child. My brother was never able to see in 3-D after having eye muscle surgery as a child. He did vision therapy as an adult and now loves 3-D movies, which he can see in 3-D. Perhaps most important is the fact that vision therapy is completely non-invasive and has almost zero risk of unwanted side effects. But don’t just take my word for it, read A Parent Guide to Strabismus, Eye Muscle Surgery and Vision Therapy for yourself and see what all the excitement is about.