Takin’ care of strabismus

Gah! I can’t tell you how long I’ve been dying to use the above title for a blog post about Stella’s vision. Eons. For those of you who don’t know, “strabismus” (defined as “abnormal alignment of one or both eyes”) sounds a lot like “business” with a funny extra syllable in front. So there you go. Was going to save that tidbit up for my next big update, but it just couldn’t wait. I’m sure it’s been done before, because come on, it’s incredible, but I did technically think that up on my own without seeing it elsewhere. I refuse to google the phrase, so as to preserve the mine-ness. I’ve been copywriting for over a decade now in various capacities, yet somehow a good or perfectly goofy headline still makes my heart flutter. Yes, I just wrote a long paragraph about the headline of this post. And I wonder why readers aren’t flocking here en masse.

Oh right, I had a minor point. See the “Eyes” link above? Yeah, so I added a new vision-centric page to this blog so that interested people can find all the write-ups about Stella’s exotic-sounding visual conditions: amblyopia, anisometropia, accommodative esotropia, hyperopia, adorablyopia. Okay I made that last one up. And there may be others that I’ve forgotten and some that I’ve misspelled. But you get the picture. There’s a lot going on in Stella’s super cute eyeballs and we’re working really hard and I’ll be damned if no one else benefits from our saga. It’s like Star Wars, wherein amblyopia is the Death Star. Come to think of it, Darth Vader would make a kick-ass vision therapist. Tough-minded, thinks outside the box, and controls people with his mind? You’re hired!

Coming soon: I have some really exciting news to share from Stella’s recent vision therapy adventures. Like, crazy stuff that you might read about in science journals and marvel at the amazingness and plasticity of the human brain and how the hell did doctors and scientists figure out how to do all this stuff in the first place? This is boring to most people, probably. I’m a blogging failure in the general sense, but clearly I don’t care. I don’t need to reach a lot of people, though if this really is anything like Star Wars, I will. I just need to reach a few people in similar shoes, to help them a little bit, just because I can. If Stella’s story can benefit other kids, well, that’s what it’s all about! Sweet, sweet meaning.

To me and parents of kids whose brains are playing favorites with their eyes, this crap is more fascinating than you can ever imagine (I hope). Anyway, in addition to patching and whatnot, we’ve been doing more “advanced” therapeutic exercises. At the last appointment, it felt like we were really onto something. No, it’s not like Stella’s eyes are cured of any issues, but words like “dramatic” were tossed around. The impact of therapy could be much wider than I’d realized. I promise to write it up soon, because it’s really amazing and fascinating and my hopes rocketed up a notch or two, and my head will explode if I don’t write it all out.

You read this far? Wow. Thank you! To prove it, please leave a comment saying only, “Luke, I am your vision therapist.”


  1. Jessica · January 7, 2011


  2. amberhj · January 7, 2011

    YES! Thanks for humoring me, Jessica… gave me a big smile to see that. Hope you’re well!

  3. Jenny · January 7, 2011

    all excited!!! both by your amazing post title (i see a book…a TV movie….a political campaign!) and the dramatic update to come. olga gave me a sneak preview i think and it was AWESOME!! way to go, you and stella have both done so great with this.

    • amberhj · January 8, 2011

      You’re right! I could become President with this! Move over, “Yes we can!” You crack me up, thanks very much Jenny. Will fill you in some more when I see you! yay!

  4. Gail · January 8, 2011

    Luke, I am your vision therapist.

    • amberhj · January 8, 2011

      Yay, thanks Gail!! Let’s get together soon…

  5. Tasha Gonce · January 8, 2011

    Luke, I am your vision therapist.

    • amberhj · January 8, 2011

      Yeehaw! Another one! Much appreciated and thanks for playing along, Tasha…

  6. Kbarry · January 8, 2011

    Hello Amber,

    I recently found your post. I just brought my 20 month old to a vision therapist…he has had esotropia since about 8 months…your stories and humor are a great resource!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • amberhj · January 8, 2011

      Hey Katie! Glad you found us. I wish you the best of luck with vision therapy! Fun to hear about another child doing therapy at such a young age. It’s been great for us, and I hope you see wonderful results, as we are. Keep me posted if you can!

      Thank YOU!

  7. Karla · January 8, 2011

    “Luke, I am your vision therapist.”
    From a fellow mom who kid’s brain is playing favourites…my little one is 3 months old and we are on Day 3 of patching…wish us luck!! =)

    • amberhj · January 8, 2011

      Hey Karla, thanks for the comment! I just visited your site and wow are your girls CUTE! And it looks like Nicole handling the patch very well! I wish you the very best of luck and will be checking in…

  8. Ann Z · January 8, 2011

    How did I go this long and never have that blog title occur to me?!? Very well done. Can’t wait to read more about Stella’s adventures. Neuroplasticity is hella I treating on it’s own, but I’m even more interested now.

    • amberhj · January 8, 2011

      Ha, I didn’t search Little Four Eyes for the phrase because I wanted to be able to plead ignorance. I’m just cheesy enough to come up with stuff like that I guess! Ha. Yes indeed! Neuroplasticity is an extremely fascinating topic and the more you read, the more confident you’ll feel about Zoe being able to overcome amblyopia! I sure do. Huzzah!

    • Ann Z · January 9, 2011

      Grrr autocorrect and posting late at night. “interesting” not “I treating”

  9. Erin · January 13, 2011

    Luke, I am your vision therapist

    Always love reading about Stella:)

  10. Sally · February 4, 2011

    Wow…so happy to find this blog! I was directed here from The Vision Help blog. I was a little strabby baby girl once upon a time, under the care of eye MDs…so here I am, pursuing VT in my 30s (coz the patching & surgeries *didn’t* take care of my strabismus.)

    Kudos to your dedication and skepticism of Doctors Know Best. I often think of the little ones doing VT; honestly, it’s tricky enough for me to do it and find time to do it. Bravo to you and Stella! I look forward to your eventual strabismic Happily Ever After.

  11. Lynn · March 7, 2011

    Thanks for stopping by to visit my blog. How on earth did you find me?!? Anyway, Stella is simply adorable. Our daughter, Camille, had surgery which seems to have corrected her eyes. We chose this route for a variety of reasons (acuity is not a problem, so glasses would not help). We see her ophthalmologist again this summer.

    Nice to meet you. Please visit again.

  12. Kitty · May 25, 2011

    *breathes deeply and menancingly, and adopts her best James Earl Jones voice (admittedly a stretch for an Anglo-Aussie chick)* “Luke, I am your vision therapist” *as the would-be-Vader looks around she it seems it is not the Death Star she is on but the set of “Life of Brian”, competing with a myriad of voices claiming to be the prophesied vision therapsit*

    Dang it. Not the first, and certainly not the last I expect, to read your fabtabulous blog.

    My 2 and 3/4 year old daughter Eowyn has had a wandering right eye on and off (on, very rarely for short periods, and off for months altogether) for nearly a year now. Despite visits to the Health Centre, Family Doctor, Paediatrician and Optometrist only to be told there was no discernable problem (and in the case of the Optometrist what at the time seemed like a totally bizarre request to describe my husband’s face [what was he expecting me to say – “Well he’s just the spitting image of the what you’d imagine the love child of Frankenstein’s monster and the Hunchback of Notre Dame to look like”?] and then supply a photo of my husband [sadly I thought it was an attempt at a pick up line, but ended as a diagnosis of pseudoesotropia]). 9 months later the wandering eye, after a lengthy vacation of many many months, decided to come back to town – so off to the Optometrists again… and now a referal to an Eye Doctor, a suspected disgnosis of right eye esotropia and possible right eye amblyopia, a 95% prediction of the need for glasses and a hint at the need for patching. That was just yesterday and I’ve already hit Google hard – and your blog has already turned yesterday’s extended session of teeth-gnashing, worry warting and bemoaning of biblical proportions into a good dose of belly laughs and, dare I say it, a bizarre sense of enthusiasm for the task ahead! And right on cue, the most-probably-soon-to-be -bespectacled-one just sauntered in here to tell me “Mmmm, I LIKE glasses!”.

    • amberhj · May 26, 2011

      Seeing this comment this morning was like waking up to a beautifully wrapped gift! Thanks for the humor and for sharing your story! Stella is also 2 and 3/4 🙂 and we noticed crossing a little over a year ago, so our timing is very similar! Uncanny, I say! I’m sorry you got a bit of “the runaround” from doctors… oy. But the fact that it was hard to detect and that it was so intermittent hopefully means that she has some really good 3D/binocular vision established, and will be on solid ground as you move forward in curtailing the esotropia and addressing any emerging amblyopia. So, huzzah! If she does get glasses, be prepared for almost unbearable cuteness. I mean, you may need anti-nausea medication. Stella’s glasses are so cute, it almost makes me sick. You know, in a good way. Like eating too much delicious chocolate or something. I hope you’ll keep me posted–I’m very interested to hear what happens! I guess for now I’ll just say that I love Stella’s glasses and after googling my ass off since day one, now have a very deep sense of peace about it all. She’s doing great, and your daughter will thrive no matter what! While looking cuter than all get out. Stella gets so many compliments on her glasses, it’s ridic. So be prepared. (Adorablyopia: An acute childhood visual condition in which the afflicted appears impossibly cute due to the magnification of innate charm by stylish spectacles.)

      • Kitty · June 5, 2011

        Thanks Amber! I had feared it was more like animal excrement in a burning paper bag on your doorstep – so ‘beautifully wrapped gift’ is a massive step up from that!

        We’ve had our visit to the eye doctor and got Eowyn’s glasses already – so fast it all seems like a blur. The specialist was great (kudos to any man who can sit and happily sing an endless repertoire of nursery rhymes accompanied by Eo’s booming-English-football-hooligan vocal stylings) and he said she’s ‘moderately’ long sighted. For now he’s just going with glasses, but we’ll go back in 3 months to see how it’s all getting on and see if we need to do patching etc (partly a relief as glasses alone is less of a battle than 2 new eye shenanigans at once – but partly a strange disappointment as I was revved up for teacups, toothpicks and colanders). We’ve had the glasses for just over 24 hours and so far only two removals followed by two speedy replacements – so yay! Flash in the pan, no doubt, but take the victories when you can get ’em, I say.

        More disturbingly I can report we are definitely afflicted by a SEVERE case of adorablyopia. The lenses make her already gorgeous blue eyes even bigger, so resisting her every command (hard enough at the best of times) is going to be near impossible. I fear you may need to establish an Adorablyopia Afflicted’s Anonymous in the near future!

  13. Kacie · June 3, 2012


    No really, I just wanted to say that I am a developmental optometrist working in an office that provides VT for kids and adults, and I have been completely absorbed into your blog. It has been so helpful to read about therapy from a parent’s perspective, and I have been inspired by your persistence and advocacy for Stella.

    P.S. She is adorable too!

  14. Kim · February 5, 2015

    Are you kidding!?! In 24 hours you have totally changed our outlook. We were beginning to lose hope. Our daughter (21 months, hydrocephalus, amblyopia, strabismus) has been in a bad mood (some days are unbearable) since the day she had the strabismus surgery. Doctors said it was no way related, but we always knew better…even though we didn’t know what to do about it. After your blog yesterday, we made a new commitment to fight her every minute of every day to keep her glasses on. We made a developmental optician appointment in a couple weeks from now and are so encouraged by the hope of new help. The glasses game-plan went great today. After months of ripping them off, patching, ripping off the patch, ripping off the glasses, etc, we were given eye drops to act as the patch. It’s been accomplishing the goal but making her mood worse. Well, today, after your blog and our new commitment, she wore the glasses, was happier, cooperated for her OT, and was able to stay up to a normal time of day and participate in family time. SOOOOO hoping it’s not a fluke and that this is the new answer. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • amberhj · March 17, 2015

      Kim, I so hope the improvement has continued! Thank you for your comment. It’s amazing how vision affects our kiddos–physically, emotionally and developmentally! Keep me posted if you can.

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