Son, You’re A Pirate!

When Jax was about a month old we noticed that sometimes when he woke up his Right Eye would drift outward a bit just for a hot second and then come back to normal. As he got older, it would happen more frequently and last a bit longer. When he was about 1, we noticed it started to happen when he got tired as well as when he woke up. The pediatrician told us to monitor it, track it, etc. but because he was so young and all of his other motor functions were working properly it could be a little lazy eye thing that would get better as he got older and his eye muscles strengthened. This past April, Steven and I noticed that this “drift” in his eye was getting worse, more frequent and the it began to irritate Jaxon. It was not only when he woke up or was tired, but now it was when he was focusing on something for any period of time. He was also rubbing it often and sometimes would begin to fuss if it wouldn’t straighten out.

When we moved back to Los Angeles and he went back to our old pediatrician, she suggested I find an Ophthalmologist immediately to rule out anything major. She gave me some suggestions, but my mother suggested I look into Jules Stein which is where my great-grandmother went for her eyes when her glaucoma came in. The Jules Stein Eye Institute is one of the leading eye centers in the country and I was very fortunate to have it right over the hill at UCLA in Westwood. And as if God was trying to drive the point home that this is where Jax needed to be treated, I ran into a woman randomly at a bar THAT very night who was a patient at the center and was speaking about all the great things they do there for all patients, any age. Okay, God, I got it! I heard ya! So I did some more online research and made my appointment.  Over the phone they did a prelim diagnosis of Strabismus and hinted that Jax’s form was possibly something called Wall-Eyed. They mention things like surgery and treatment and my heart just stops and the pressure in my ears becomes too great! Surgery?! You want to perform eye surgery on my two-year old! It took what seemed like 5 minutes to finally take in a deep breath and continue scheduling my appointment for Jax.

So the day finally comes and we get to the center. They set him up with the pediatric ophthalmologist who also happens to be the center’s Strabismus specialist. Feeling better already.  Within minutes she was able to determine that Jax has Exotropia which is what they thought over the phone. Basically Jaxon’s eye muscle is weaker than one side and he’s beginning to favor the other eye. Because it was caught early on, it can be  rectified with treatment. Between patching and/or glasses, his vision could become better in the right eye and the muscle will strengthen. The blessing is that they don’t believe in jumping right into evasive surgery on toddlers, so we are starting with Patching! So now my son thinks he’s a real pirate for about 2 hours out of the day! I put the patch on his left eye early on in the day for about an hour while we play and do activities and then again later on in the day for the same amount of time. It’s a little bit of a fight for him to keep it on, but I’m going to start letting him wear his Pirate costume while he wears the patch to really play up the Pirate theme he loves so much!

We are using Ortopad patches. They are fun! He gets to have a new design each time. I’ll let him pick out the new one, and put him in front of a mirror while I put it on and then we do a “pirate patch” dance to kick off the hour session! The doctor suggested we do it when he’s not around other kids so we don’t have the kids focusing on it, pulling on it or pointing it out to make it seem awkward. I’m trying to make it as normal as taking his inhaler. So far, not so bad! I’m so grateful that I went with Mommy gut that this normal “lazy eye” thing was a little bit more than what it was and we were able to catch it early on. Always go with Mommy gut!! People may tell you are over reacting or you’re being dramatic or it’s not that serious…but NOTHING is trivial when it comes to your children! If we had waited until he was five, my child would be in danger of losing his vision completely in that eye. I am beyond grateful for instinct and the internet!