Since late July this year, Allie’s eyes have seemed to occasionally point in 2 different directions. It was initially just before her nap or before bedtime as she sat in her high chair for her lunch or dinner, spacing out. More recently it seems to be anytime she’s tired, so it’s common after she wakes up in the morning, prior to nap or bedtime. It’s now become pretty apparent to me that it’s the right eye drifting out to the side (away from her nose), whereas the left eye remains focused.

I was hoping it’d go away, since it was only happening occasionally, but the occasions have become more common now. Since Flip Flop Girl (Christi) and I were online chatting about parenting-related things last night, I decided to finally tell someone about this and (eek) make it a reality with my acknowledgement. Turned out it was the best thing I could’ve done. She validated my concerns, did some brief research online and said it seems like it could be extreme farsightedness. I was just hoping it wasn’t a brain tumor suddenly pulling on Allie’s internal eyeball parts. Christi offered to ask her friend about Allie’s symptoms for me, since her friend is a pediatric ophthalmologist. I gratefully accepted. Meanwhile, I thought, since Christi did some research, I ought to, too. So I looked. And I looked. And I looked. And I narrowed down the possibilities. And narrowed down the specifics. And I concluded with intermittent exotropia.

Within my research, intermittent exotropia seems to be a brain issue and not an eye issue. This can be tested by having Allie focus on my finger near her face when she’s having an “episode”, then covering her good (left) eye and seeing if the right eye immediately jumps in to focus on my finger. If it does, then it’s not a weak muscle that makes the eye unable to focus inward. Instead, it’s that her brain does not acknowledge the image being broadcasted by her right eye, so it ignores that eye’s information intake. Surgery can cosmetically correct the eye and force it in, but it doesn’t cure the underlying problem of making her brain recognize her right eye’s information. But there is something called “vision therapy” that could train the brain to properly accept and use information from the affected eye. Things like wearing 3-D glasses or glasses where she gets 2 different color lenses on each eye, then she’s asked to see or follow something that only can be seen by the weak eye. It’s less invasive than surgery AND the old method of forcing a kid to wear an eye patch over her “good” eye 3-8 hours a day for 3-12 months straight. Talk about traumatic. And it seems like vision therapy may be more effective both in immediate correction and in long-term maintenance. Plus it doesn’t risk messing up the good eye.

It’s October, which means we’re within the window to change/add to health insurance coverage to take advantage of any help with paying for this stuff. So glad October hasn’t passed me by until I go this swift kick in the pants to do something about this; I was going to just wait until Allie’s 2-year appointment at the end of next month, but open enrollment would be closed by then. I’ve received some advice to look up pediatric ophthalmologists who are board-certified in vision therapy (apparently still a new thing not recognized by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, but you know what they do recommend? Surgery. Screw that as a first line of defense; learned my lesson in Allie’s broken teeth/pediatric dentistry situation), and will be doing that. Insurance typically will pay for a surgery, but not therapy, so I’ll probably be paying out-of-pocket for the less invasive therapy (less risks, more promising). But I’m willing, able, and ready.

These are very recent photos.