I can remember exactly when I first thought my daughter Mari’s eyes weren’t quite right. It was Christmas day and the whole family was celebrating at my parents’ house. I was holding Mari and feeding her and she was staring up at me. Or was she? She had a squint. The right eye? No, the left? This was strange and I hadn’t noticed it before.
Mari is my fourth child and the youngest of 11 grandchildren to my parents. I remember the squint that appears in babies’ eyes as their sight develops and as they start to focus on things during the first few months. But on that day, as I looked down at her feeding, this was new. She was almost six months old at the time and I was certain that her eyes had been straight for a time previously. The next routine appointment in the surgery was within about six weeks so I decided to keep a record until then and mention it to the doctor.
By the time of the appointment, I was completely certain that she had a squint most of the time and my mother had also noticed and mentioned it to me. I am one of four children and I turn to my mother often for help and advice so hearing her saying that just confirmed my feelings. The GP carried out a few simple test and suggested that she was referred to the opthalmology department in the hospital.
The first appointment came within a few months and the simple but very effective tests by the opthalmologists who could measure the squint, were amazing! I wasn’t concerned about her vision. By now Mari was crawling and picking the tiniest things up from the floor. I was sure my daughter’s vision was fine and during each appointment this was confirmed. Therefore, she didn’t need glasses nor a patch as this was a cosmetic problem. The squint in Mari’s eyes would change from one eye to the other and this was a good thing as it meant she wasn’t relying on one more than the other. However, as she grew, this could change and one eye could potentially develop to be the dominant eye meaning that the other would become weaker and eventually stop working.
After two years of monitoring by the opthalmology department, we were given an appointment with the consultant who performs the eye surgery. We knew that squint surgery is usually offered around three years of age and Mari’s surgery date came about three months before her third birthday. My husband and I had discussed the operation albeit very briefly as we were both in agreement that we wanted Mari to have the surgery even though it was for cosmetic reasons at the time. The squint was very obvious and we didn’t want her to become self-conscious as she grew, and there was the risk that her eyes and vision could worsen of course.
The surgery was a success and even though here eyes were red and bloodshot for a good few days following the operation, the difference was amazing. That was almost eighteen months ago and she still has regular appointments with the opthalmology department. I’ve noticed over the past few months that one eye tends to wander outwards occasionally. It happens in both eyes and is most obvious when she’s tired or looking at something that’s far away. This was confirmed in the most recent appointments and it’s possible Mari will need further surgery. There is no doubt that there’s been an improvement and we are certain we made the right decision having the initial surgery. However, if her eyes continue to wander outwards, the option of a second operation may be facing us soon and it may not be as straightforward a decision as the first.