Both of my children were unfortunate enough to inherit strabismus from my side of the family. Strabismus is when both eyes are not aligned. In their case, they both had an eye that would turn out, especially when looking at something. We noticed this when they were babies, but we were told nothing could be done until they were about the age of 4 and then they would need surgery. It didn't seem so bad as they were growing, their eyesight was good, they could read and function normally, so we didn't do anything about it until my son was about 6. I noticed when he would play video games, he needed to keep turning his head to readjust his eyes. I could see one eye turning out constantly. He would also get double vision, which he actually thought was cool. Left untreated, the weak eye could start to go blind and glasses would definitely be necessary.
I started researching his eye problem and found out about vision therapy. I had never heard about it and the doctors recommending surgery, never suggested it. Apparently, surgery is only temporary. Muscle memory makes the eyes go back to the way they were and then surgery would be required again. Not only that, but now there will be scar tissue and with another surgery, eye muscles could weaken and eventually, the eyes will just get worse. So far, surgery was a no go. With vision therapy, the eye muscles get worked and trained to go in the right position. Both my children started vision therapy in 2007. My daughter's eyes weren't as bad as my son's, so she was able to graduate after a couple of years. My son, however, has taken a lot longer.
Technically, we were supposed to go twice a week to therapy, but only went once a week. It's possible he could have finished sooner had we gone twice a week. He has a homework packet that he is supposed to do everyday. Let me tell ya! This was a constant thorn. He knew he had to do this everyday, but everyday I had to tell him, and everyday he would get grumpy about it. The optometrist also said adding Cranio-Sacral Therapy would be good. I can talk more about that another time. My chiropractor does cranio, so we started with that and I could tell his eye would be pretty normal for a couple of weeks before turning again. Every few months, they would get an evaluation to see how their eyes have improved. They were consistently getting better over time. Except once, come to find out he had been doing his homework wrong, and thus, reversing the efforts being made. For the past year, we have only had to go every other week. We used to have to tell him to "fix" his eye when we see it turn out, but we really haven't had to say that much any more.
Finally, yesterday, after 5 years, he has graduated from vision therapy!! Woo Hoo!!! At least until the optometrist checks him in 6 months to make sure he has not regressed. When the doctor would cover the strong eye, the weak eye would slowly start to turn. As soon as she uncovered the strong eye, the weak eye snapped back into position quickly. This is what needed to happen, rather than coming back slowly or not at all. He also knows how to fix his eye when he feels it turning. Soon the trained muscle memory will take over and he shouldn't have to think about it. The good news is, both my children don't need glasses. They might in the future. For the past couple of years, my daughter's eyes have not regressed. Before vision therapy, her eyes would burn and she would get headaches while reading. She can now read for hours and not have a problem.
I don't think my son is completely out of the woods. The Dr. was satisfied with his progress and wanted to stop his therapy for now. I'm cool with that! I truly believe vision therapy works, although it does take a long time for some people. Had we been more diligent with the homework, my son might have been able to finish sooner. We saved their eyesight from worsening and now they don't get burning sensations while doing their schoolwork or reading. It's something to consider if you have noticed your children's eyes crossing or turning out.