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Elise & Anna’s Story

Elise was diagnosed with Bilateral Strabismus : Esotropia at 6 months of age

When Elise went to her 4 month check-up, the health nurse suggested to me that she go to the optometrist to get her eyes checked as they should have straightened by then.  The optometrist confirmed her concern and referred us to an ophthalmologist. She was then diagnosed at 6 months old with Bilateral Strabismus : Esotropia.

We were living in Darwin at the time of the referral to an ophthalmologist.  Having worked in the medical industry as a nurse my whole life, I knew that when the private adult ophthalmologist who consulted us in Darwin suggested he was “happy to have a go at her eyes”, I should never go back!

Elise had her surgery the day before her first birthday

We flew down to the Melbourne Children’s Eye Clinic to see a paediatric ophthalmologist. Unfortunately we didn’t have private health insurance, so then had to go on the public wait-list.  She was finally booked for her surgery the day before her first birthday.  The Surgeon apologised to me that day saying that had he known how bad her eyes had become he would have done his best to get her in earlier. 

After surgery, we had to start patching

Surgery went extremely well but post-surgical testing revealed that the weaker eye had already started the process of going blind.  Cue the commencement of 3hrs a day of patching a 1 year old!  Need I say how tiring it is following a toddler around to stop her pulling her patch off!  Glasses followed 6 months later and still, now at age 5 she wears them. We moved from Darwin fairly soon after her surgery so are incredibly blessed to have such professionals as The Melbourne Children’s Eye Clinic only one hour away.   

Elise has coped very well with most of her treatment

Elise has actually coped very well with most of her treatment.  At first, patching was very difficult I was so concerned for the vision in Elise’s weak eye that I knew I had to persist with it every single day.  Her vision after 12 months was improved slightly but after another year of 3hrs/day patching, the brain had responded and her vision was almost 6/6 (20/20).  She was prescribed her first pair of glasses at age 18months.  It was hard at first to accept that because she already has red hair and freckles and I didn’t want another thing to add to the list of potential bullying traits.  However, Elise took to them straight away because she could see so well.  She became a much happier child.  After two great reports from the ophthalmologist and the attitude of her young self about not patching, I became complacent & did less than required.  Subsequently, her vision declined at the next test, and that was enough for me to enforce patching every single day again.  

Consistency with patching is key to success

At last check-up, Elise is still on track for the possibility of getting rid of her glasses at age 8.  In between now and then she may have to have another surgery to correct her up/down ‘floating’.  Overall though, I would encourage parents to absolutely put up with the meltdowns over patching because it’s the consistency of this that is keeping Elise’s recovery on track and potentially preventing a requirement for permanent glasses.

Elise's condition doesn't interfere with her zest for life at all!

Elise loves going to school, especially for music and sport. Her condition doesn’t interfere with her zest for life at all. She is the girl hanging out of trees, swinging on the monkey bars, tumbling on the trampoline and wrestling with her big brothers – all whilst wearing her glasses.  Surprisingly even though she does all this, she’s only had one set of broken glasses in four years!  Despite my initial fears, Elise has not had one person say anything mean about her glasses.