Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eye Problems and Ophthalmology Appointment

A few days ago, the girls and I were walking around the store and Piper spotted a balloon.  On the ceiling.  On the ceiling of a big-box store.  And THEN she noticed that the balloon had dogs on it.  The child can spot a dog from a mile away, I swear. 

Kids with Ds have a higher incidence of eye problems than the typical population.  They are the same types of troubles that all kids have, they’re just more frequent.  The estimates vary, but I’ve seen numbers as high as 70% of individuals will need glasses for refractive error (where the eyes just don’t see as well as they should.)  Other, less common, issues are strabismus (which is when the eyes don’t align correctly), nystagmus (when the eyes shake as they’re trying to focus), amblyopia (“lazy eye”), and cataracts.  Some of these are blamed on that low muscle tone that I’ve talked about before. 

Because of the higher risk of having problems, kids with Ds see the ophthalmologist routinely instead of waiting for problems to manifest.  

We first took Piper when she was nine months old; she was very borderline for needing glasses, and just barely made the cutoff that our doctor considers glasses.  Her doctor said that her eyes weren’t quite bad enough to make her want to keep the glasses on, so we’d wait a few months and see what things looked like then.  We went back in October last year, and her eyes got remarkably better.  Like, way better than anyone had anticipated.  Not normal, but good enough for a one-year-old to not worry about glasses just yet.  The doctor theorized that, because she was a preemie, her eyes were needing just a little more time to “shape up” than they should have. 

Yesterday was our next follow-up.  I can’t say that I really look forward to these appointments because it requires them to dilate her eyes (which she HATES).  It’s not the dilation part itself, it’s the time it takes to get in-and-out of there that kind of stinks.  We didn’t do too bad yesterday- just under two hours… 

Anyway, we went in and sat with a nurse first who took a peek at her history and made sure that nothing had really changed.  They dilated her little eyeballs, she cried, we walked around the hospital, and then came back and watched a movie in the waiting room (on a side note- have you ever noticed that the level of difficulty to entertain your child is inversely proportional to the need of you being there???)  Anyway, they finally came and took us back and the tech looked at her, sent in the fellow (who’s really nice and supposed to start next year full-time; they’re going from two doctors to FOUR, for anyone who’s fed up with the wait to get into the clinic…), and then the doctor came in. 

Holy smokes- the kid’s eyes are NORMAL.  She had a +1.0 on both sides, which isn’t enough for glasses on a toddler.  He said that she’s the picture for why he waits to put glasses on kids if they don’t REALLY need them.  Hot dog!

It’s not to say that she won’t end up with glasses at some point.  He said that now his biggest concern is to make sure that she can see really well when she goes to school.  So, we’ll keep plugging along and keep going back every year, just to be sure. 

And now that Piper’s in bed, a day and a half after her appointment, her eyes are finally starting to not be dilated.  They say the lighter the eye, the easier they dilate and the longer they’ll remain, but good grief.  And because she was dilated, the few pictures I was able to take from my phone all made her look like a creepy bunny a la Monty Python or something.  So I’ll just leave you with this one because it’s cute and I haven’t posted it yet.  She’s panting because she was HIKING, but more on that later…



  1. i went through that hellish torture with rachel just a couple months ago. she didn't mind the drops but waiting and waiting? oh man, she was so pissed she couldn't run around.

  2. My post for tomorrow is about eyes too (I wrote it tonight and it's set to post in the AM!) Ella was fortunate? to not have any eye problems until she was 4, then all hell broke loose! She was always farsighted but "normal for a 2 year old, 3 year old etc." Her eyes typically take 3 days to go back to normal after being dialated, I agree it is so creepy!! Glad Piper doesn't need glasses!!

  3. Yeah for her! Aubrey really only wears hers at school and for group settings when she needs to see well, but can't be up close, so kind of the best of both worlds. Hope Piper keeps it up.

  4. So glad you don't have to mess with glasses! This is one area Claire has done great. The dr said she is slightly far sighted, but unless something really changes he doesn't expect her to need glasses until school.