A few months ago, we noticed that Shane's left eye was wandering a lot, particularly when he was tired or when he was looking off into space. I made him an appointment with our pediatrician, who referred us to an eye doctor. Eventually Tricare referred us to a pediatric opthamologist, and though we were scheduled for about a month and a half out we were able to take a cancelled appointment and be seen earlier.
It was quite interested how they can tailor all of the eye tests to a child by using pictures, toys, and even a barking dog on a far wall. Shane was a brave boy: he had to sit in a special chair and they did a series of eye tests, some using a strip of prisms to test how far his eye was wandering. He did cry a little bit about the numbing eye drops--the nurse said they stung--but was fine after they took effect and he had to get three other kinds of drops. I may have bribed him slightly with the mention of the special sunglasses they would give him when we left!
Eventually the Dr. finished and said that Shane has something called Strabismus. If you would like to learn more about it, you can click here. It's a lengthy read but quite informative. In Shane's case, he has constant wandering in both eyes at a distance, and intermittent wandering of both eyes at close range. He literally sees (and his brain processes) two images. Because it's already so advanced at a distance patches would be ineffective, and the doctor said that either glasses or surgery are our options. He recommended we try glasses first, although they have only a 15% success rate in cases like Shane's, but obviously I don't want the poor guy to have surgery if we haven't tried the less invasive route first. We have a follow up appointment in a few months (when I'm 37 weeks pregnant!) to re-evaluate and see how things have changed.
I took the kids to Walmart to pick out a pair of frames and Shane was NOT thrilled with any of them. There were a pair I thought were really cute, kind of a retro look almost like 3D glasses have. But the only pair he liked were "the green ones"! I figured that the only chance of getting him to wear them was if he really like them, so that's the pair we went with!
That week while we waited for the glasses to come in I tried to really get him excited about them. We talked about all the people he likes who wear glasses, and even a little girl in his class at Summer's Best Week who wore glasses a few days. (She doesn't like hers either!) The day we went to pick up the glasses I told him we'd have a Glasses Day Party with fun and treats.
So we picked them up and had them adjusted for his face, and as we walked around Walmart he got offended every time someone talked to him and didn't comment on his glasses. We went home and we played in the sprinkler and ate watermelon, and in the evening he got to watch Rio 2 and have popcorn and cookies.
On days when he doesn't want to wear the glasses but he has to anyway, he always asks if he can have another glasses party! Way to try to work the system, kiddo.
He's pretty good about wearing them. We spend a lot of time reminding him to put them on, and he's always taking them off and putting them down somewhere. Sister has also gotten in trouble a few times for snatching them off his face. I need to go get her a pair from the dollar store! I still see his eye wandering sometimes, but it doesn't seem quite as bad now. God is a God of miracles, and I am praying hard that the glasses work and he doesn't have to go through surgery(ies).
The first week he wore his glasses might have been harder on me than on him. There were a couple times I cried a little, wishing that I could take it from him. I hate the thought that he has to see everything blurry (the way it works for now is that they've given him a prescription he doesn't need for vision, but the theory is that his eyes will have to work harder to work together to see which may correct the muscle imbalance. Or something like that.) I hate the thought that his head might be hurting from strain. I just hate this for him.
On the other hand, I'm grateful to live in a place and with insurance that could get him help, and that he is still young enough that even if he does need surgery it has a good chance of working. His brain is still developing as well as his eyes, which gives him a better chance. My mommy heart just hurts for him, that's all. He's pretty cute rocking the green glasses though!