Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Strabismus (crossed eyes) Surgery

Vision problems tend to be common in persons with Down Syndrome and that has been an issue for us early on. Gesserine has been wearing glasses since she was 4 years old. As you might have figured, getting her to keep the glasses on was quite the trick. The ophthalmologist was right that it would not take her long to see they helped her so he would be willing to use them, but there was some problems adjusting. First she would always take them off the in car and we lost the first pair of glasses out of the window of our van! The next few pairs of glasses were ruined, not so much because she lost them (although she would just take them off and leave them in hard to find places) but because she would not take them off of her face properly. They kept breaking at the nose because she would pull them apart to take them off rather than up and over the ears. Here was her first pair of glasses. We went through 4 pair of these within the first year!

While we have been going through the Children's Mercy Hospital Ophthalmology clinic to handle her eye troubles, we get our glasses locally. Our optometrist is great and after seeing all the trouble we were having keeping her glasses in one piece he found and ordered us some plastic frames. These frames are absolutely amazing! They are totally indestructable. You can bend, twist, do anything you want to them, they will NOT break! They are held on with a strap around the back of the head that she hides under her hair. For some reason this made them fit better and she very rarely takes them off and loses them. My regular readers have probably noticed them already but here is a current picture of them. They come in pink, blue and white.

Well the glasses have been working great but last year we noticed that Gesserine was crossing her eye, well actually both of them. She has Strabismus. Here is the definition according to Children's Mercy Hospital.

Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

Strabismus means eyes that are not straight or do not line up with each other. If the problem is not treated, it can cause amblyopia.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is reduced vision in one eye. This happens when the eye and the brain do not work together properly. The eye looks normal, but the brain favors the other eye.

We had to have her patch her eye for almost six months to strengthen them and get them back working how they were supposed to. While her eyes got stronger, one still tends to cross. We have decided to do the corrective surgery which will hopefully give her an opportunity to use both eyes as she is supposed to. For now she tends to use them one at a time. The doctor said it would be like tightening a spring in her eye and will pull the pupils to the center. However, if the eye is still so weak that she is not using it much, then the eye will begin crossing again after surgery. That is why it is important to get the strength up before hand. Well, now that the time for surgery is here, one eye has began to weaken again so we are back to patching for another month and see the surgeon on August 10th. The first time we had to patch she would simply NOT keep the patch on the eye, so we had to give her drops that actually blurred the good eye. This time, since we only have to do it for two hours a day and since she is a bit older, she is doing a great job. She loves being a "pirate" for a couple of hours each day.

I only hope it gets strong enough in time and that the surgery will help her utilize her eyes as they were meant to be! I will keep you posted as to how the surgery goes.


Beverly said...

I will be praying for Gess. Noah just about an hour ago came to me with his glasses, with the one side broke off. and he was doing so well for months with them. : )

Christi said...

Ronnie had surgery just over a year ago on both her eyes. She never needed glasses as she was cross focusing. Her outcome was wonderful, it was like she was a new kid. She got really spunky and her world just opened up. Her last check-up was a great report. Hopefully you won't have to go that route, but it all turned out well for us. Blessings, Christi

Heather said...

I was "cross-eyed" as a child and wore glasses from the time I was 2 years old til I was 5, and then I had this very same surgery (of course, that was back in 1986, they may do it differently now!). I had to have it on both eyes. It helped for a long time but eventually my left eye began to go "lazy" and "cross" again, and I had to wear bifocals most of my elementary/preteen years. Eventually my eyes were strong enough to go without the glasses (though if I'm really sick and tired, they will start to turn in!). Only problem now is that I'm nearsighted and can't see without contacts! Anyway, you didn't really need to know all that, did you? But just wanted to say, I've been through that, and I'll be praying for you and Gess!

Lisa said...

Hi - I have been looking forward to looking at your blog regularly after I spoke to you this past week regarding reading resources. I have enjoyed your blog. Katelyn had strabismus surgery twice (6 and 18 months) at CMH. Dr. Olinsky was our doctor. Rest assured that you will be in good hands at CMH. I will be thinking of Gess.

Lori said...

Thanks all, it is encouraging to hear all the success stories! It's especially nice to know that Katelyn had the exact same surgeon Gess will have at CMH. I will let you all know how it goes!


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