Friday, July 25, 2008

Strabismus Part 2

The goal of Alyce having Strabismus surgery is more than cosmetic. It is important that she have binocular vision before age 2. Binocular vision means that when you look at something each eye gets a different picture and your brain stitches them together for a single picture. Vision that is not binocular would generate double images of two different things. The reason why it needs to be fixed before age two is that at an early age the brain is malleable. If we left her eyes unaligned eventually her brain would choose one eye as the dominant while ignoring the input of the other. Over time she would eventually become blind in the weaker eye.

The above statement is important because after Alyce's surgery she did achieve binocular vision, however it wasn't perfect. For the first week or so her eyes aligned perfectly, but after that her right eye started to drop. She compensated for the drop in the right eye by tilting her head to the right. Depending on what she looked at it could be up to 45 degrees. While this made for some really great pictures it wasn't something we wanted to leave hanging out there. So after a few more doctor visits it was determined that Alyce needed a second surgery. We would have to wait 6 months for her next surgery so we could allow her eyes time to heal from the first. This time however we would have to patch her good eye for the entire six months rather than just a month before her first surgery.

Patching an eye means that we had to cover her good eye so that she had to use her bad eye. Forcing her to use her bad eye stopped her brain from forgetting about the good eye. We covered her good eye by using really big band-aids designed for that purpose. Alyce was surprisingly agreeable to the whole process. She didn't complain much and didn't have the manual dexterity to peel off the cover.

The second surgery came after her first birthday. This time Alyce did not need an MRI so she only had to be put under once. The surgery was completed with no complications and again both eyes needed to be adjusted. The recovery was a little rougher than the last time in that she woke up in a cranky mood or at least she complained about it more. We think she was just hungry seeing how she hadn't eaten since before she went to bed the previous night. The nurses gave her some vanilla wafers (her first cookie ever) and that seemed to improve her mood. Another side effect of the surgery that we had both times was Alyce cried red bloody tears. Luckily the bleeding stopped rather quickly but it was still hard on mom and me.

Six months after the second surgery Alyce was given a clean bill of health. Her eyes had healed well, they were aligned, and she wasn't tilting her head. We have a followup appointment in September that should be her last provided no additional treatment is needed. Mom and I are very grateful for the care provided by the St. Louis Children's Hospital and can't thank them enough.

1 comments on "Strabismus Part 2"

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much relief reading your entries has given me. It seems like there really is little information out there on strabismus! Alyce is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad that her surgeries were successful. Thank you so much for the comment and please, keep visiting, I will be adding you to my links on my website!

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