Vision Intervention Part 1: In Which I Discover My Child Has a Vision Problem

by Andrea on August 4, 2012

Anabel's Crossed EyeThis little cutie pie is Anabel. She has strabismus, amblyopia, and astigmatism, wears glasses, and patches her right eye 3 hours a day.  This picture was taken before she got glasses and I’ve posted it because today I’m not writing about the glasses, the amblyopia, or the patching. I’m writing about how and when I even realized she had a vision problem to begin with.

I noticed her left eye crossing about 2 months before her 5th birthday. You can see it in the photo at left. It wasn’t obvious all the time but I noted it most often when sitting down to eat since she sat across the table from me. At that distance and in other circumstances at similar distances it always appeared crossed. It wasn’t happening all the time, and nobody else seemed to see it (at first), so I waited to see if it was just a fluke or if there was really something going on.

Early on, I didn’t feel any urgency to rush her to the doctor but before I knew it, her birthday came and went. She had her annual check up at the pediatrician’s office, but the doctor never noticed anything wrong and though I meant to, I forgot to mention the crossing eye. Four more months slid by. Her left eye was crossing more frequently and by then I began to pick up on other things that seemed to indicate Anabel might really have a vision problem requiring intervention.

Anabel at Sleeping Bear DunesSquinting was the next clue and she did it a lot. Especially outside in bright sun. Who wouldn’t squint in bright sunlight, right? But it was always and only her left eye, and she would cock her head to the side when she did it. It occurred to me she was doing the same thing at other times too, usually in brighter light, when she was tired, and when Anabel in Roscommonshe was watching tv or playing a computer game.

It now dawned on me that her cute and quirky little way of looking at me, smiling with her head cocked to the side and her left eye squinted shut, wasn’t just her being cute and quirky. Anabel was compensating to see properly.

I still second-guessed myself. In most of the photos we’d taken of her she didn’t appear cross-eyed or squinting. But a few did. Even photographs taken during the same vacation were inconsistent.

In retrospect, the squinting was an earlier symptom and the eye crossing came later. I just noticed the crossing first because it was abnormal.

Anabel 2 yearsPhotos taken indoors or on overcast days look very normal and the squint is minimal. All of the photos taken of Anabel in bright or direct sunlight show how much she had to squint and tilt her head to the side in an effort to see. In combing through old photos, I’ve found that her quirky little smile is there even at age 2! I now know she really was using her right eye to look at me and smile for pictures.  Little did I know how bad the vision was in her left eye.

The reality of her vision problem hit me suddenly. The clues began to fit together like puzzle pieces and reveal an obvious picture that had somehow been obscured from my own observation for so long. One day I asked Anabel if she ever had trouble seeing things.  I think she was surprised by the question but she answered. “Well, yeah…sometimes.” I asked her when she had trouble. She responded by putting her hands up and pointing in opposite directions on either side of her head. “When this eye goes this way, and this eye goes that way,” she said. “Anabel,” I asked, “what does it look like when your eyes do that? What do you see?” Her answer shouldn’t have surprised me but it did. “Sometimes I see two things.” It was at that moment all of my suspicions and second-guessing came to an end. My poor little girl had been having double vision and I’d allowed months to go by with it unchecked! The time had come. In my mind the time was long overdue. I would take her to a pediatric ophthalmologist. And now it seemed I couldn’t get her there soon enough.

To be continued in Part 2: In Which We Head to the Doctor and Get a Diagnosis.



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