Strabismus – Liam’s Story

When Liam was just over a year old we started to notice that his eyes seemed to ‘cross’.  When I took him to the GP, she said that it was barely noticeable and didn’t think we had too much to worry about, unless they are still crossing when he’s 18 months old.

We were living abroad at the time and were in the process of packing up to move back to South Africa, so we thought we’d tackle it once back home.

Soon after returning to South Africa, Liam got a chest infection as he’d just started going to creche (as we all know, creches are great for immune building), so we took him to my GP.  He immediately noticed that Liam’s eyes were crossing and referred us to an Ophthalmologist in the area.  After a couple of consultations with him, he referred us to another Ophthalmologist for a second opinion, as it appeared as though Liam had two different kinds of squint and he wanted to be sure before making any decisions.

Ophthalmologist number 2 was quite incredible, he was quick with his eye tests, a veteran dealing with kids, and he prescribed lenses for Liam, advising us that this was not the end and that we should return for a consultation after a couple of months.

I really expected a battle when we first received Liam’s glasses, I thought he would take them off and refuse to wear them.  So we played it really low key.  We had ordered him a pair of Julbo frames, they were too adorable!  I went to fetch them without him as I didn’t want too much activity around when he first put them on.  When I got home with them, Liam came running up to me to say hi, I gave him a cuddle and put his new glasses on him, he took a step back, looked at me, smiled and ran off to carry on doing what he was doing.  What a relief!  Obviously they helped to an extent and, as young as he was, he realised it.

After a couple of months we returned to the Ophthalmologist for Liam’s check-up, and we were asked to try patching for two months, then to return for another check-up.

I got Liam a special toy that he could only play with while patching, so it made patching much easier and kept his mind off the patches.

Once again, we returned for his check-up, and we were told that the patching made no difference, so eye-muscle surgery was the next step.  We agreed to the surgery and Liam had his very first operation the next week.  After the surgery, and ever since, his eyes line up with his glasses on, but squint when his glasses are off.

The squint is called Strabismus, and comes hand-in-hand with a few other challenges:

  • He only uses one eye at a time, his brain always shuts one eye down, and he prefers using his right eye.  This is most challenging when he’s reading.  He’ll use his right eye to read part of the sentence and then his left eye to read the rest of the sentence, which means that sometimes he misses words on the page, or loses his place easily.  It also makes copying from the board at school a little more difficult and his work pace is quite slow compared to his peers.
  • He can’t see in 3D, so he has to wait a little while when a movie he really wants to see at the cinema comes out, as we need to wait until it’s shown in 2D.  Not a real big challenge, but a bit of a frustration for him.
  • I think one of the biggest challenges Liam has is that he has no depth-perception.  I’m quite concerned about this one as it does limit him with career choices one day, and he may also not be able to drive a vehicle.  He’s struggled a bit without depth-perception, especially while trying to climb trees with his cousins, he climbs up them without a problem, but he’s never ever climbed down a tree, he’s fallen out of trees, or shouted for help.  He also struggles with catching balls, balancing on the balance beam, and most other PT activities at school.

We have tried Vision Therapy and we are currently trying Syntonic or ‘Light’ Therapy, which I’ll cover in another post.

Post - Strabismus

Thanks for reading 🙂

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