Saturday, February 02, 2008

Wonky Eye

I searched through my previous posts and only found one little mention in passing of Roanen's "lazy eye", around his first birthday. The doctor had checked out the alignment of his eyes and found them to be good, but I still noticed his right eye sliding outward every once and a while when he was tired or when he looked into the distance. It was hardly noticeable - even my mother who saw him all the time had never seen it happen - but it bothered me enough to take him to the opthamologist about 9 months ago just to get things checked out. It took the opthamologist about 2 seconds to shine a light in his eye and diagnose him with exotropia , a form of strabismus in which his eye slides outward. He assured me that it was purely cosmetic and that it wasn't affecting his eyesight. The only way to fix it was with surgery, which wasn't necessarily successful, and could only be redone 2 or 3 times before they had used up all the space to try to fix it. The surgery could be done anytime, but people who do get it usually wait until the early teens, when having "one eye chasing bees" (as Russ calls it) affects them socially. Being painfully aware of how cruel kids can be I didn't really want to wait that long, so at his follow-up appointment 3 months ago I asked for more information about the surgery. We were referred to a pediatric opthamologist in Ottawa and drove in yesterday to find out more.
As it turns out, he actually has a severe form of strabismus in BOTH eyes. In the link it's the rarer form called "alternating exotropia" although his eyes don't go quite as wonky as the kid in the picture. The doctor had him looking across the room, and as he covered one eye at a time the uncovered eye would "jump", then slide outward. It was kind of disturbing and cool at the same time to see it just happen at will when you would just see it by chance before. When the eye slides out he gets double vision, and it will affect his depth perception if it's left untreated.
We also found out that it's always genetic, so somewhere in the family someone else must have it. Our other kids are also at risk, although Josey seems to have avoided it since it usually appears before they're 2 or 3.
So the only treatment is surgery, and he's already booked for June 16th at CHEO. The muscles holding his eye have to be loosened under general anesthesia, and although it sounds complicated it's day surgery and the only care afterwards is a little cream over his eyelid. No patch, no temporary loss of vision thank goodness. There's a chance that since the strabismus is on the severe side, we might have to repeat the surgery within a year to further correct it.
The only thing I'm annoyed at is the fact that the original opthamologist was wrong about it affecting his vision. If we had decided to wait until he was a teenager to get the "cosmetic" surgery he may have had problems with things like coordination that I don't think I would have associated with his vision (since the doctor seemed so sure). See, there is an upside to being shallow :)

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