Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eye Patches | Living with my Pirate

Daniel goes to an eye specialist. We've been going to Northwest Eye Surgeons. Dr. Kadera is marvelous. After you've had an average experience, greatness is so much appreciated. And we think Dr. Kadera is pretty great. We love him.

When Daniel was two his pediatrician referred him to a specialist because we had noticed that Daniel's left eye pulled slightly outward. The condition was more noticeable when he was tired. After waiting several months to get in we were told it was possibly esotropia, but most likely pseudostrabismus, which basically means it only appears that the eyes are misaligned, so it would be a good idea for us to bring him in every six months or so. After a terrible hassle with the insurance company, which refused to pay because there was no actual diagnosis made, proving it was a medical condition, we weren't motivated to make a second appointment. We didn't really want to pay specialist rates a second time merely to be told nothing was wrong.

When Daniel started school he was tired more frequently and we noticed that his eye seemed to still pull outward. When we took him in for his well-child check-up his pediatrician checked his vision and immediately referred us to another specialist, Dr. Kadera.

We saw him for the first time this last spring. It took a couple of months to get in to see him because he practices at a couple of locations. Well worth the wait. He assessed Daniel's eyes and immediately informed us that it appeared his eye had become amblyopic. It was shutting down because there was a problem with the muscles sending the message to the brain to function properly. (I don't understand fully, but Eric seems to.) The muscle essentially needed exercise to get stronger. (I get that part.) He wanted us to schedule another appointment in a couple of months and we would talk about patching to correct the problem (which he assured us works in 99% of all cases when done consistently).

On the way home Daniel cried, distressed about the possibility of having to wear a patch. I assured him it was going to be just fine and waited to cry myself until I was in the privacy of my bedroom.

Two months later was just two weeks ago. We went in to see the assistant. She assessed and quickly informed us that we would need to begin by patching four hours a day. She wanted to see us again in six weeks. We would assess the improvement. When we got the eyesight of the weak eye close to the vision of the strong eye we could start to pull back on how much time we needed to patch each day. She was so great to answer all of our questions, including Daniel's.

When she explained that the intention was to make the weak eye stronger Daniel asked, "But will that make my strong eye weaker?" What a great question. Sometimes we underestimate their ability to understand and process information.

Though Daniel was still nervous about wearing the patch, I was amazed at the wisdom of Dr. Kadera in waiting just a couple of months. It gave my son time to process the possibility and get a little more comfortable with it.

When we got home and I was in private I cried. There is nothing like knowing that there is nothing you can do to fix something for your child. It's one of the humbling lessons of motherhood. You go through all the emotions of wondering what would have happened if you'd gone in sooner or pushed harder when you suspected something was really wrong, even when the specialist has reassured it was likely just an illusion of misalignment.

We've been patching two weeks, faithfully, no exceptions. The assistant told us it works in about 99% of cases if done consistently, so we will be consistent. Daniel is getting used to it. We've tried to be sensitive and not make him patch in public when it's avoidable, but not at the expense of skipping a day or even cutting his time short.

So Daniel is learning to exercise his eye and I am learning to exercise trust in my God's ability to take care of His child, who loves Daniel far more than I do. (That doesn't seem fathomable, but I know it to be true and I am thankful.)

Daniel has Duane Syndrome. If you are interested in understanding more about Duane Syndrome click here for a thorough description that makes a lot more sense than mine.


  1. He looks good in his eye patch. I hope this solution works and he will notice a difference when it's complete!

  2. I LOVE the title of this BLOG!Arrrr.

    I too cried after Isaac's first eye apt. Isaac's "lazy" eye was caught really early when he was 3...the eye patch worked wonders.

    You are such an amazing Mom, and you know how I feel about Daniel! You two are a perfect match :)

  3. I've been gobbling up your freebies -- I LOVE the midnight edition, and I must say that I love your designs more than the 'official' ones. Shhh..... ; )
    Anyway, I stumbled on a comment you made about Daniel's eyes, so I landed here.

    I was diagnosed with a not-lazy but lazy eye in Kindergarten. My right eye moved in sync with my left eye, but my brain doesn't process most of the information from the right eye. My parents' reaction: Oh, this explains why she bumps into the right side of doorways and other things.....Lo those many years ago, the patch was worn full time. Plus I got glasses too, due to astigmatism. Yea. Fun times. I wore the patch for a year.

    I was fine - until I hit my senior year of high school. With all the reading, writing, and stressing [over college], my eyes were always hurting. My doctor tested my eyes using a pair of glasses with one red and one green lens. I was to look at an image and tell him what I saw - spots, locations and color. With the brain properly processing information, I should have seen a baseball diamond, including pitcher's mound, of white spots, when using both eyes. Nope; the spots fluttered in and out of my vision, and the colors flipped between white and green [left good eye].

    My purpose in rambling is to caution you - continue to follow up on Daniel's eyes. Vigilance will keep both eyes strong and cooperating!

    1. Thank you SO much! We are planning on staying on top of things. The regular check-ups are very thorough! I am so thankful for the specialist we are seeing. He's to keep going every three months, I believe. But your reminder is so encouraging that I am doing the right thing by staying on top of it and being more on the side of paranoid now :) Thanks for sharing your story.