Strabismus Surgery in Children: What to Expect at Home

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Your Child's Recovery

Esotropia, exotropia, hypertropia

On the first day after surgery, you may notice some pink or reddish tears coming from your child's eye. His or her eye may be red for a week or more after surgery.

Your child may have some mild pain and swelling around the eye. But the pain and swelling should go away after a few days. Your child should be able to do most of his or her usual activities in a day or two. Make sure your child goes to all follow-up visits so the doctor can make sure the surgery fixed the eye.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart his or her medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for your child's pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can give an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If the doctor prescribed eyedrops, use the drops exactly as directed. To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your child's head back, and pull the lower eyelid down with one finger. Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid. Ask your child to close the eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around. Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your child's eyelashes or any other surface.


  • Your child can go back to his or her usual activities in a day or two.
  • For 1 week, do not let your child play sports with a ball or do any activity where his or her eye could get hit.
  • For 2 weeks, your child should not swim.

Other instructions

  • If your child's eye is sore and swollen the day after surgery, you can put ice or a cold pack on the eye for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel also works well.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has trouble seeing.
  • Your child gets new eye pain, or the pain from surgery gets worse.
  • Swelling starts around your child's eye or gets worse.
  • Your child's eye bleeds. A small amount of pink-coloured tears are normal for a day or two after surgery.
  • Your child has pus or other discharge coming out of his or her eye.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child has a fever.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has any problems with his or her medicine.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: May 23, 2016