When Greyson was diagnosed with his stroke, there were many unknown problems that he would face. It’s a waiting game as he and his brain grows. One of the first issues he faced was at three months old when both of Greyson’s eyes became crossed. This condition is known as Strabismus. “Strabismus is a disorder in which the two eyes DO NOT line up in the same direction. Therefore, the eyes DO NOT focus on the same object at the same time. The condition is more commonly known as “crossed eyes.”
It was very obvious to the naked eye. As we attended our follow ups with the specialist, it was confirmed that Greyson would need to see a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. At our first consultation, she confirmed what we already knew: Greyson was indeed crossed eyed. She explained to us that if the problem didn’t fix itself by the time he was six months old then he would have to undergo surgery to correct them. A feeling of defeat came over me. Our son had been through enough already in the first three months of his life, now we have to put him through eye surgery.
I went home and began my research. I started reading articles about how it was more of a cosmetic fix. I thought to myself, if this is only for a cosmetic fix then I don’t want him to go through it. It will just be a characteristic of Greyson. If it was not going to help him, why make him go through it? Boy! I was completely wrong. Our six month checkups came and I spoke to each of his specialists to learn their opinions about this surgery. Each of them made valid points and made me realize that this surgery was the right decision for Greyson.
The doctors explained to me that with him being young the surgery would be more beneficial than just a cosmetic fix. Cosmetic fixes are for adults due to the brain already being developed, but his brain is still growing. Going through the surgery would position his eyes correctly. This allows the brain to train itself to allow the eyes to see straight forward. If he didn’t go through the surgery and remained crossed eyed, then that’s how he will always see. It would affect everything he does. He may never walk, never drive, etc. Keep in mind his eyes weren’t his only challenge. Greyson had a lot against him to be able to conquer the normal things. We had to rewire and retrain his brain.
I had all this information going into our consultation with the pediatric ophthalmology surgeon. He confirmed what the other doctors said. If four doctors were in agreement that we should go along with the surgery, then we knew it was the right decision to make. We scheduled his surgery. His first one was at seven months old. At the one month follow up, his eyes still weren’t where they needed to be. So we scheduled another surgery shortly after that appointment. Greyson underwent his second eye surgery at eight months old—this one did the trick.
Strabismus corrective surgery is noninvasive. The surgery and recovery is quick. It’s under general anesthesia. When people awake, they are typically groggy. Every child reacts differently to anesthesia. In recovery, once he was able to hold down liquid, we were free to go home. We were sent home with eye cream to apply to the eyes over the next week. The eyes look more painful and worse than they actually are in the recovery process. The eyes stay red and had bloody tears up to a week. The rest of the day after the surgery he experienced a little discomfort, but by the next day Greyson was able to return to regular activities. He tolerated these surgeries well.
I get asked about this surgery often. What I have taken from this experience is this was the best decision that we have made for Greyson. Soon after the surgery was done and his eyes adjusted to seeing straight forward, he started to hit his first set of milestones. He began to follow things with his eyes, recognize object/people in the distance, reach for objects to grab, bring objects to his mouth, etc. I believe that we would not be where we are today, if it wasn’t for the corrective surgery. Over time Greyson keeps progressing and hitting his milestones. He walks, talks, plays normally, is learning to write, and learning with the other students in his class. It all started with that set of surgeries. I would recommend and encourage any parent to do it.
There are other forms that a doctor might try. Surgery is typically the most effective. In the future he may need another one, but not until years down the line. The other ways to correct strabismus is patching the eyes, eye therapy, and glasses. In some cases, these will do the trick. This wasn’t the case for Greyson. We all knew the only way to do this was through surgery. Four years later, he’s doing amazing and his eyes are holding up strong. His vision is in normal range. He has a little bit of an astigmatism, but it’s not in a range where he will need glasses at this time.