It's been awhile since I blogged about Alivia's Intermittent Exotropia. If you missed my last update, Back to Patching, feel free to catch up. Additionally, I have a page dedicated to all of our Intermittent Exotropia updates (including resources) so if you haven't checked it out already, have at it!
CONSIDERING SURGERY FOR INTERMITTENT EXOTROPIA
Her last doctor's appointment with the Ophthalmologist was in April but I've been at a loss for words. Sort of. We didn't exactly receive terrible news but I wouldn't call it good either. Apparently the patching didn't reverse the slight deterioration in her left eye like we had hoped. In fact, I noticed she did worse on her eye tests when she struggled to see objects from a distance that in her last appointment she had no trouble seeing. The doctor also thought she was seeing the deviation more frequently than usual. When she asked me if I thought it was getting worse I told her I didn't think so. Of course, she went on to say that sometimes the eye drops the nurse administers in the office may be the cause of the eye deviating more frequently so she couldn't be sure. With that said, we decided to pass on the drops at her next appointment.
The next part is good and bad. Her doctor said I could consider eye muscle surgery now. Now that Alivia has been cooperative with having her eyes tested, the doctor has finally been able to get a true reading (measurement) of how much her eye is deviating. What does that mean for us? Good things I guess. If you consider surgery a good thing. It means that the chance of her over or under correcting the muscle causing the eye to cross or deviate outward even more is slim. Yep, that's the good part. However, I haven't been able to get myself to think about what surgery would entail. It's quite frightening and concerning to say the least! Not only that but the percentage of patients needing more than one surgery is too high in my opinion! Yep, you guessed it, that's the bad part.
So here it goes, my list of things that could happen if we don't have the surgery:
1. Her deviation could become more frequent or worse, permanent!
2. Even if the frequency of her deviation doesn't get worse, the percentage of time during the day it is deviating now is already enough to cause vision deterioration which could eventually lead to vision loss.
3. Although patching exercises the weakened muscle of the deviated eye, it does not guarantee that it will strengthen the eye enough to keep it from deviating at all. Patching her stronger eye (the one without the condition) only worries me. How much can her dominant eye take before the muscle in that eye weakens from lack of use?
The plan is to follow up with her doctor again in August where Alivia's eyes will be tested once again. In the meantime, the doctor suggested patching her eye twice as long per night. Instead of 2 hours, I am now patching her for 4 hours. We decided to take the aggressive route in hopes to have her vision, at the very least, remain the same. If it does remain the same, we may be able to put off surgery. If it improves, than she may not need the surgery at all assuming the eye corrects itself before she turns 8 when doctors consider the eye to have matured completely and vision deterioration can no longer be reversed.
Realistically, I don't think Alivia's eye will correct itself especially given her family history. Almost the entire family on my husband's side has the same condition so you can say it's not looking good for her! I've come to the conclusion that I have the next few months (until August) to get myself comfortable with the idea of her having the surgery. I think it's the right choice and I rather her have it now while she is still young and will not remember much. Although I can't begin to imagine my baby in a hospital setting and unresponsive from anesthesia. My eyes are watering just typing this.
To avoid getting emotional, I'm going to end this post here. And because I am a see the glass half full type of person, I will keep reminding myself that she could be a lot worse off.
If you are experiencing something similar, I hope you'll drop me a comment. I could use the support and I'd love to show you some in return!
If you missed my previous post, Potty Training: the Potty Prize Basket, feel free to check it out! Also, if you missed the poll I have displayed in my sidebar to the right, I hope you'll check it out and vote! If you do, thanks a bunch!