This story was sent in by Christina. -Ann Z
When I found out my daughter, Anna, needed glasses this past December I stumbled onto this blog. Since then I’ve found it to be a great source of both information and support. And because of this I thought I would share her story. Anna’s story is nothing shocking, but from reading this blog it seems like everyone’s story is interesting in some way and if nothing else you realize that you are not alone in this. We truly are the only ones who know what it’s like to have a very young child with an eye condition.
Anna was diagnosed with accommodative esotropia due to farsightedness at 18, almost 19 mos. old. I first noticed Anna’s left eye turning at around 15 mos., but it wasn’t very bad or very often – only really happening when she ate. At first I thought it was just me, but then I pointed it out to my husband and he could see it too. A few days later my father-in-law said something about her eye without my husband or I saying anything to him. We had a regular check-up with her pediatrician a couple of weeks later so we figured it would be ok to wait and mention it to the doctor then. By the time of the appointment her eye was turning more often and occasionally the right eye would turn too. When I mentioned it to Anna’s doctor, I asked him if it this was normal and he told me it wasn’t. He recommended that we take her to see a Pediatric Ophthalmologist and even gave me a few names. I got home and made the appointment right away, but the earliest appointment I could get was 2 mos. away.
At first I wasn’t very concerned about the appointment being so far off because her doctor wasn’t overly concerned, but as the days and weeks went on Anna’s eye started turning so badly that you could only see a sliver of her iris at times. I kept calling and pestering the PO and finally was able to get an earlier appointment. Anna did remarkably well at the appointment despite being off her usual nap schedule. She looked at the stripes on the cards and watched for the light up dinosaur, etc. and didn’t really mind the exam until it was time to dilate her eyes – but who really likes that? When the doctor completed her full exam she told us that Anna was farsighted and that’s what was causing her left eye to turn. The specific diagnosis was accommodative esotropia due to hyperopia. At that time her prescription as +4.50 in both eyes, but she told us we needed to come back in 4 mos. and that Anna’s script may change.
During the exam I asked the PO if Anna had always been farsighted, etc. – you know, all the questions that start to flood after you find out your baby needs glasses – and she felt that she had, but it hadn’t presented itself until recently. Hearing her say that Anna has probably always been farsighted, made something click for me, so I asked the PO about a face Anna had made several times a day since she could hold her head up, but oddly stopped making around the time I noticed her eye turning. This face…
Now this is a cute face, right? Well after I described it to the PO, she believed this was actually a precursor to the eye turn – Anna’s way of focusing very early on. We never really thought much of her making this face because everyone that babysits her wears glasses and always peers over the tops of them, so we all just thought she was imitating – wrong! So of course as a parent I felt like I’d been a complete idiot. How could I not realize something was wrong with my baby? The fact that Anna needed glasses didn’t bother me as much as the fact that she probably needed them a lot earlier and I just didn’t notice. Another thing that should have tipped me off to something is that my Dad has poor vision, ambylopia, and as a child he had several surgeries to correct strabismus in both eyes. I didn’t know any of the terms yet, but the last thing I thought when I brought Anna to the PO was that she couldn’t see well. She has always been on par or ahead for her age – pointing out all sorts of things – butterflies, balls, flowers, etc. – in books, on wrapping paper, on t-shirts, you name it, so I honestly thought it was something more related to strabismus – a “weak muscle” as everyone would say to me – but definitely not trouble seeing.
We just went to Anna’s 2nd eye appointment and like her PO thought at the first visit, she needed a stronger script (+6.0 in the right eye and +7.0 in the left eye, but the new script is for +5.50 and +6.50). So now her PO has classified her as having extreme farsightedness, but doesn’t think she will need to be patched or have surgery because her eyes are so closely matched. We have to go back in 6 mos. and we’ll see what happens then. Fortunately Anna has been great about wearing her glasses from day one. A few weeks in she actually said, “I can see”, when I put her glasses on after her nap so I knew they were helping. She can be a bit rough with them at times – car rides are the worst; she gets bored and takes them off. And in the last couple of weeks she’s been taking them off a bit more and rubbing her left eye, but with the script change that now makes sense.
You wouldn’t think that finding glasses for a very young child would be difficult, but it really is. It took me a full day of searching, but we finally managed to find a great optical shop near home and in 4 mos. we’ve been there 4 times, but they have a decent replacement policy and they’ve been really helpful every time we’ve been in. Which is really all you can hope for when you’ve got a nearly 2 year old in glasses. Hopefully with Anna’s script being adjusted she’ll take her glasses off less and we won’t have to make as many trips.
I also wanted to share that the hospital where Anna’s PO is based is doing a genetic study of esotropia, strabismus, ambylopia, ptosis, and other related eye disorders. My husband and I spoke with the research coordinator and agreed to participate – it only required us to give saliva samples and fill out a questionnaire. I’m trying to get my Dad to participate because of his eye condition, but he’s not as eager as my husband and I. Hopefully though, our participation in this study will someday help kids like Anna get the care they need as soon as possible.
Our main goal in all of this – eye exams, trips to the optical shop, extra sets of glasses, participating in research studies – is to do everything we can to give Anna what she needs to continue being the happy, healthy little girl she is.