How Much Does Strabismus Surgery Cost?

Last Updated on February 28, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Strabismus, also known as crossed eyes, is a condition where the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. While it may seem like just a cosmetic issue, strabismus can cause serious vision problems if left untreated.

This article covers everything you need to know about the average cost of strabismus surgery, what’s included in the price, ways to lower costs, and how to get financial assistance if needed. With the right information and preparation, strabismus treatment can be affordable and successful in realigning the eyes and improving vision.

How Much Does Strabismus Surgery Cost?

The average cost of strabismus surgery in the United States ranges from $3,000 to $7,000 per eye. This cost estimate accounts for the surgeon and facility fees, anesthesia, medications, pre-testing and follow-up care. Some of the factors that cause pricing variation include:

  • Surgical technique – Adjustable suture surgery tends to cost more than traditional non-adjustable procedures.
  • Complexity – More complex realignment due to severity of misalignment raises costs.
  • Location – Prices are generally higher in major metropolitan areas.
  • Surgeon experience – More experienced surgeons often charge higher fees.
  • Facility – Hospital operating rooms are more expensive than outpatient surgical centers.

Without health insurance, you may pay the full surgical cost out-of-pocket. With insurance coverage, your costs will depend on your plan details, but you can expect to pay deductibles and copays. We’ll cover insurance and financial help options later in this article.

According to NVISION Eye Centers, the cost of strabismus surgery typically ranges between $5,000 and $10,000 without insurance. Insurance coverage can significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Factors influencing the cost include hospital location, surgeon fees, anesthesia, and presurgical care.

Strabismus Solutions writes that cash pay rates for strabismus surgery vary based on the severity of the condition. Minor eye turns may cost around $3,000, while more significant cases can be closer to $10,000. Surgery centers tend to be more affordable than hospitals for this procedure.

PlacidWay notes that the average cost of strabismus surgery worldwide is approximately $7,099 at certified clinics. This provides a general idea of the cost of this procedure on a global scale.

Range of Costs in Different Regions

Strabismus surgery costs can vary significantly depending on geographic location. Here are some cost ranges for different regions in the U.S.:

  • Northeast U.S. – $4,000 to $8,000 per eye
  • West Coast – $3,500 to $7,500 per eye
  • Midwest – $3,000 to $6,000 per eye
  • Southern U.S. – $2,500 to $5,000 per eye

In general, prices are highest in large coastal cities and lowest in the Southern and Midwestern regions. However, many individual factors affect costs in each area. Be sure to get personalized quotes from surgeons in your location.

Costs With and Without Insurance

Having health insurance can lower your out-of-pocket costs for strabismus surgery dramatically. Typical savings include:

  • Surgeon fee reductions of 25-50%
  • Facility fee discounts of 50% or more
  • Lower negotiated rates for anesthesia and medications
  • Elimination of pre-testing and follow-up visit charges

Some plans cover strabismus surgery in full after you meet your deductible. With insurance, your out-of-pocket costs may be limited to:

  • Deductible payment – averages $1,500
  • Coinsurance of 10-20%
  • Copays of $20-$50 per visit

Without insurance, you’ll pay the full surgical fees of $3,000 to $7,000 per eye. Significant savings are possible with health insurance coverage.

Insurance and Financial Assistance

Understanding how your health insurance plan covers strabismus treatment is key to budgeting costs. Here’s what you need to know about insurance coverage and financial assistance programs.

Navigating Insurance Claims

Most health insurance plans classify strabismus surgery as a medically necessary procedure and provide coverage. Some tips for navigating insurance claims:

  • Get preauthorization – Confirm your insurer will cover the procedure in advance.
  • Check your plan details – Understand co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums.
  • Ask about pre-testing coverage – Plans often cover exams and diagnostic testing needed to prescribe surgery.
  • Compare in-network costs – Using in-network surgeons and facilities provides maximum coverage.
  • Get cost estimates in writing – Have the surgeon and facility provide quotes outlining your potential out-of-pocket fees.

Financial Assistance Options

If insurance coverage falls short, many options exist for financial assistance:

  • Payment plans – Many surgeons offer no-interest or low-interest payment plans for surgery fees.
  • Medical credit cards – Provides access to fixed payment plans at low or zero interest.
  • Medical cost sharing – Non-profit programs that pool member contributions to pay down costs.
  • Grants and scholarships – Non-profits provide financial aid for medical procedures to qualifying applicants.
  • Crowdfunding – Use websites to raise donations from friends, relatives, and community to cover costs.

Also read our articles about the price of cataract surgery, LASIK eye surgery, and eye examination.

Consult with your eye care providers and do your research to find the best financial solutions for your strabismus surgery.

What is Strabismus?

To understand the factors that impact surgical costs, it helps to learn what strabismus is and why treatment is often needed.

Definition and Types

Strabismus refers to misaligned eyes that point in different directions. The major types are:

  • Esotropia – One or both eyes turn inward toward the nose.
  • Exotropia – One or both eyes turn outward away from the nose.
  • Hypertropia – One eye points higher than the other.
  • Hypotropia – One eye points lower than the other.

Causes and Symptoms

Common causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Birth defects
  • Injury
  • Illness affecting eye muscles or nerves

Symptoms vary but often include:

  • Double vision
  • Squinting, eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Poor depth perception

If left untreated in children, permanent vision loss or lazy eye can develop.

What is Strabismus Surgery?

Strabismus surgery aims to realign the eye muscles and position the eyes to point in the proper direction again. Here’s an overview of surgical options:

Surgical Procedures

Traditional surgery involves making incisions in the eye muscles to weaken or strengthen their pull on the eyeball and achieve better alignment. The surgeon may operate on one or multiple eye muscles.

With adjustable suture surgery, the eye muscles are repositioned during surgery using temporary stitches. This allows the surgeon to fine-tune alignment in follow-up visits by adjusting the sutures without additional surgery.

Laser-assisted surgery uses a laser to shorten eye muscles and improve alignment without incisions. Generally used for smaller alignment adjustments.

Goals and Outcomes

Successful strabismus surgery can:

  • Align the eyes properly
  • Allow eyes to work together again
  • Eliminate double vision
  • Restore depth perception
  • Prevent or treat lazy eye and vision loss
  • Improve appearance

Results are seen quickly but maximum vision correction occurs over weeks of natural eye muscle healing.

Factors Affecting Surgery Costs

Strabismus or lazy eye looksMany factors influence the overall cost of strabismus surgery. Here are some of the main ones:

Surgical Technique

Adjustable suture surgery requires special expertise and tends to be more expensive than traditional procedures. The ability to fine-tune alignment post-surgery may be worth the added costs.

Laser-assisted surgery is sometimes less expensive than traditional incision methods when small adjustments are needed.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient

Inpatient hospital surgery costs $2,000-$3,000 more on average due to facility fees. Outpatient surgical centers provide quality care at lower facility cost.

Location and Surgeon Expertise

Metropolitan areas and top specialists command the highest base surgeon fees, which can increase procedural costs. Less experienced surgeons often charge $1,000-$3,000 less per eye.

Facility, Anesthesia, and Medications

Hospital operating rooms range from $2,000-$4,000 daily while outpatient surgical center fees are $500-$1,500.

General anesthesia may cost $500-$1,000 while local anesthesia is $200-$500. Medications and supplies add a few hundred dollars more.

Pre and Postoperative Care

Pre-testing like eye exams and MRI scans can run $500-$1,000. Follow-up visits and vision therapy cost $200-$500 if not covered by insurance.

Choosing Your Surgeon and Facility

Selecting the right surgical team for your strabismus correction is vital. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Look for an ophthalmic plastic surgeon who specializes in strabismus surgery and has years of experience. Get patient references.
  • Choose a state-licensed outpatient surgical center for cost savings versus a hospital. Accreditation by AAAHC indicates quality standards.
  • Get multiple consultations to evaluate options. Have a pediatric ophthalmologist assess children.
  • Seek second opinions if you are unsure about surgery, the approach, or the surgeon.

Preparing for Surgery

Proper planning and preparation help strabismus surgery go smoothly. Here are some top tips:

  • Have a preoperative exam to measure eye alignment and vision. Imaging tests may check muscle position.
  • Discontinue contact lenses 1-2 weeks before surgery as directed.
  • Arrange a ride home from the surgical facility. You cannot drive after anesthesia.
  • Fast before surgery to avoid complications from anesthesia.
  • Take a pain reliever like Tylenol the night before and the morning of surgery.

Follow all pre-op instructions from your surgeon to avoid delays or cancellations.

Recovering from Strabismus Surgery

Understand the recovery process and timeline to plan for care after your procedure.

  • Mild discomfort, bruising and swelling are normal post-surgery. Severe pain warrants calling your doctor.
  • Protect eyes from irritation by wearing goggles provided by your surgeon for days or weeks.
  • Limit physical activity for the first week; your doctor will provide activity restrictions.
  • Expect double vision initially after realignment that should resolve in days or weeks.
  • Follow-up visits starting 1-2 weeks post-surgery check healing and make any suture adjustments.
  • Eye muscle strength and alignment continue improving for up to 8 weeks after surgery.

Risks and Complications

While serious risks are rare with strabismus surgery, potential complications include:

  • Infection – Minimized by sterilization and antibiotics.
  • Bleeding – Careful surgical techniques make this unlikely.
  • Lost or slipped muscle – May require re-operation.
  • Under or overcorrection – Fixed by adjusting sutures or follow-up surgery.

Discuss risks thoroughly with your surgeon and follow all pre and post-op directives closely to avoid complications.

Patient Experiences and Outcomes

Hearing about real patient experiences can be helpful when deciding about strabismus surgery. Here are a few examples:

Pediatric Success Story

Rachel, age 6, had severe esotropia causing a lazy right eye and double vision. After adjustable suture surgery, her eyes are now straight, vision is 20/20, and costs were covered by insurance.

Adult Patient Perspective

James, age 42, had exotropia and surgery to re-align his left eye outward. He paid $3,500 out-of-pocket and advises adults to get multiple surgeon opinions before this “life-changing” procedure.

Parent’s Experience

Maria’s 4-year-old son had hypotropia. After traditional strabismus surgery costing $4,000, he shows no signs of the condition. She says proper follow-up care is critical for the best results.

These real-world experiences help illustrate both the challenges and successes of strabismus surgery.

Final Words

While strabismus surgery does represent a serious investment, the benefits for vision and quality of life make it worthwhile for many patients. With insurance coverage, financial assistance programs, and the right ophthalmic specialist, it can be an affordable treatment option.

If you or your child are struggling with strabismus, first fully understand the condition and surgical techniques. Then explore your health plan, get cost estimates, and find an experienced surgeon to provide quality care. Addressing strabismus is critical for proper vision development and focusing on the rewards, not just the cost, is key.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth getting strabismus surgery?

Yes, for most patients strabismus surgery is worth the investment. By realigning the eyes and stopping lazy eye, it can restore normal vision, eliminate double vision, and greatly improve quality of life. The benefits often far outweigh the cost and make surgery the right choice.

Is strabismus surgery high risk?

No, strabismus surgery is not considered high risk. It has over a 90% success rate when performed by a skilled pediatric or ophthalmic plastic surgeon. Risks like infection and bleeding are rare.

Follow all pre and post-op directions to minimize complications. The benefits typically outweigh the potential risks.

When is it too late to treat lazy eye?

It’s generally not “too late” to treat lazy eye or amblyopia up until a child is about 10 years old. The younger the better, but improvement is often possible with surgery, vision therapy, and patching regimens even into the school-age years.

Beyond ages 10-12, lazy eye is harder to correct. Consult an ophthalmologist as soon as you suspect an issue.


Amblyopia: Lazy eye condition where vision doesn’t develop properly in one or both eyes. Can cause permanent vision loss if untreated.

Esotropia: A type of strabismus where one or both eyes turn inward.

Exotropia: A type of strabismus where one or both eyes turn outward.

Hypertropia: When one eye points higher than the other.

Hypotropia: When one eye points lower than the other.

Preauthorization: Process of obtaining approval from the insurer before surgery.

Vision Therapy: Exercises to improve visual processing skills like tracking and eye coordination.


American Academy of Ophthalmology – Strabismus Overview

AllAboutVision.com – Strabismus and Amblyopia

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

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