Eyes

Stella has accommodative esotropia due to farsightedness (hyperopia), and amblyopia, which is probably contributed to by anisometropia (unequal refractive power in her eyes). As with our tube weaning story, I hope someone somewhere can benefit from our ongoing journey in the realm of vision. To dive right in, use the links below. Read on for all the background–and be sure to pop up some popcorn.

Click here to read posts about Stella’s eyes on this blog.

Click here to read my posts at Little Four Eyes.

Stella donned her first pair of glasses at the ripe old age of 20 months. The sequence of events leading to those adorable frames was sparked by an emergency room visit entailing a head CT scan, as Stella’s eyes began crossing severely one afternoon, a problem that seemed to come out of nowhere. At first it was perceived as a scary reaction to a possible bump to the head (hence the CT), at the end of a week of appetite-crunching, energy-zapping, snot-ridden illness. We later realized that her eyes had not been properly aligned since birth, though it was deemed intermittent. I can now look back at baby pictures and see how the little white dots of light are in different places and obsess endlessly about how her eyes weren’t straight–fun! (By the way, that whole detecting strabismus through quick photo analysis thing? Not a great party trick for some reason.) I now know that it’s not uncommon for an illness to reveal or trigger eye crossing or other forms of strabismus–the resulting fatigue broke down Stella’s ability to focus through her farsightedness, and her ability to accommodate that slight mis-alignment. Her eyeballs and associated muscles were simply exhausted by that bug, having endured extra strain all along. I honestly don’t know how long it would’ve taken for us to uncover her visual issues otherwise. She could see details near and far! She’s loved books for as long as I can remember! So in a way, I’m really quite thankful for that hideous cold.

It took a month or maybe closer to two before she really accepted the glasses, and patience is not exactly my strong suit so those were trying days. Though in hindsight I realize that Stella did amazingly well with the transition to a bespectacled life. At our very next check-up with the ophthalmologist, following the initial appointment during which glasses were prescribed, we were informed that Stella’s left eye was being tuned out by her brain, and that she needed to begin patching. It was like being punched in the gut, as I thought we’d addressed her vision issues and were finally settling into a new “normal.”

After reading Fixing My Gaze, I became extremely interested in vision therapy (okay, I was kind of obsessed) as a complement to the three hours of patching Stella was doing each day in order to treat her amblyopia. After a bit of asking around and, of course, some major googling, I found a relatively nearby developmental ophthalmologist with a practice centered on vision therapy for kids. This doctor was our third opinion. The first was an ophthalmologist who never mentioned vision therapy, and the second was a developmental ophthalmologist who said Stella was too young for vision therapy.

Stella attended her first session of vision therapy at just 24 months of age and, as of this writing, has been going in weekly for almost five months. We do 20 minutes of vision therapy at home, five days a week, as well. We are seeing wonderful improvement. Her weaker eye once had acuity of around 20/80, and now it’s up to 20/30. And her eyes don’t cross nearly as easily during examination! Her fine motor skills (and patience for fine-motor tasks) have taken off. All told, this stint of vision therapy will span nine to twelve months, until her vision reaches an age-appropriate level, or until her improvement stops or plateaus.

I write about Stella’s vision here and at Little Four Eyes, a mindblowingly helpful resource for parents of little ones who wear glasses and/or face visual challenges of all sorts. (Go there immediately if you haven’t already! Yes–gasp!–it’s so good that I’m ordering you to leave my site in the dust!)

Click here to read posts about Stella’s eyes as featured on this blog.

Click here to read my posts at Little Four Eyes.

Thanks for reading!

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13 Responses to Eyes

  1. Pingback: Takin’ care of strabismus | The Life and Times of Stella

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  3. Amber, you and Stella are amazing! I just found your site and am thrilled, as I am an Occupational Therapist with a specialized private practice that addresses children’s handwriting skills. I also specialize in vision assessment and work closely with developmental optometrists in my area toward the early detection of children’s vision skill needs. I am thrilled to have found your site – so much to learn from you! Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  4. Kathy says:

    My daughter was just diagnosed with accommodative esotropia at 18 months. We are currently waiting for her glasses to come in. It feels like the calm before the storm. After reading some of your blogs I am feeling really nervous and overwhelmed by this diagnosis. I know it can always be worse but this sucks too!! As if having a baby wearing bifocals isn’t bad enough the thought that this is going to be a lifetime struggle is too much to bear the thought of. A friend suggested vision therapy and after reading your blog I am very open to it. Thanks for posting. Good luck with your beautiful little girl. I will continue to read on.

  5. Maria says:

    Hi, do you know of any vision therapist in Europe? I am really interested in vision therapy for my daughter who will most likely need an eye surgery.

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  7. Julie says:

    My baby was just diagnosed with this. What did the ct show? Just curious. Thanks so much!

    • amberhj says:

      CT showed nothing, thankfully! I really wish she hadn’t had one, but at the time they wanted to rule out trauma since the crossing was so sudden. Sounds like you caught it early, best of luck!

      • Julie says:

        I understand. She needed it done and that is wonderful the results were normal!!!!!! How awesome. She is a doll.

      • amberhj says:

        Thank you Julie! We are actually visiting a pediatric neurologist to get their opinion soon. I am having the CT scan sent over to them before our appt, in case they can read it and see more nuance as in the ER, they were just looking for major lesions and whatnot. Any clues are helpful though I do feel we are on the right track and remain grateful to this day that the CT scan came back with “no acute abnormalities.”

  8. Pingback: Something Amazing Happened at Disneyland. | The Life and Times of Stella

  9. Susi says:

    I just read a post of yours on Little Four Eyes. Thank you!
    I have a 20 month old who was just diagnosed with Accommodative Estropia and Amblyopia. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all since only a minimal turn in her eye is what led us to getting it checked out. She’s been successfully wearing a patch 4 hours a day for about 3 weeks but now we are starting to shop for glasses. I can’t imagine we’re going to have as much luck with the glasses as we have with the patch. Any recommendations for glasses that are affordable, cute, durable and will work well with the patch? I’m also just starting to research Vision Therapy and am eager to read more about your adorable Stella!

  10. Christine Vivino says:

    My daughter Grace started patching per a vision therapy place I went to back in high school
    Well at 15 m after patching the right eye 3-4 x a week for only an hour as rec by dr our Peciatrician ordered we seek second opinion

    Now this dr said she’s severely farsighted and need Rx lens if 5.5
    We just got the miraflex and she’s not a fan

    My friends daughter has the Swiss flex

    I need help! I’m a working mom and I’m not home to help her wear the glasses

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