Personal stories from parents of children diagnosed with an eye turn (strabismus).
*Names have been changed for privacy protection.
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Bethany, age 9
Bethany was born with strabismus (eye turn) in her right eye, which we thought had resolved on its own when she was an infant. But then two years ago, my daughter began exhibiting classic near point activity avoidance behaviors.
Reading was physically painful for her. She loved to be read to and she had an enormous vocabulary, but it was torture to get her to attempt to do written or reading homework in her easy beginner reader books.
She would put her head down and say “I’m tired” and shut down. It would take her two hours to write three word sentences in her reading log, and this required coaxing, cajoling, warnings, timeouts, etc. to get her to stay on task.
The school refused to test her. At that point, I recalled the earlier diagnosis of congenital strabismus [crossed eye] and, as part of a preparation for a private evaluation, I contacted our family eye doctor and confided my concerns.
Fortunately for my family, this optometrist turned out to be a Vision Therapy certified behavioral optometrist in practice with an ophthalmologist! She literally turned my daughter’s life around.
Vision Therapy was suggested as a course of intervention for my daughter. Within two weeks of tracking exercises, my child was almost miraculously able to read through an entire Berenstain Bears Big Honey Hunt book without pausing, looking away, rubbing her eyes, or shutting down. That was the first time in her life she was able to do that!
One year after starting Vision Therapy, she read and could comprehend the novel Watership Down for her second grade independent reading project. Her teachers were right about her gifted vocabulary and oral comprehension, she just needed to learn how to visually process and analyze the written word!
Jenny V, Bethany’s parent
Bubby, age 7
Before Vision Therapy, Bubby had problems riding his bike, catching things, and kicking balls. He liked to read, but preferred to have someone read to him. The pictures he drew were spatially inconsistent. His right eye tended to turn in much of the day.
Now Bubby loves riding his bicycle and catches balls pretty easily. About five months into Vision Therapy, he began to take an interest in reading, all the time! His drawings are still a bit abstract, but at least they’re proportioned better. His grades have also improved.
Bubby can now go through much of the day without his eye turning in, and most of the time if you remind him to use both eyes, the right one will straighten out.
Vision therapy has been an exceptionally positive experience.
Audra, Bubby’s parent
Jamie, age 9
I have seen Jamie’s eyes become stronger. I don’t notice her right eye turning in as much as it did before she began therapy. Jamie has always been a good student, so I am grateful for that, but I have seen her improve greatly when it comes to playing sports.
I think Jamie still has less than normal depth perception, but what she does have now, as a result of the Vision Therapy, is an improvement from where she started. This spring was the first time she was able to consistently hit a softball with a bat. It is very exciting to see these developments and improvements in my daughter. I would, and have, recommended Vision Therapy to many people.
Shelly W., Jamie’s parent
Dylan, age 7
When I first noticed my son Dylan’s right eye was turning in, it was in photographs. It became more noticeable when he was tired. He started having trouble in school learning to read and write. We were referred to Dr. X. Before Vision Therapy, Dylan did not like wearing his glasses. He had learned to use only one eye in his daily activities.
After 12 weeks of Vision Therapy with Dr. X, we have seen much improvement. The daily homework and weekly visits stimulated the weaker eye and taught Dylan to use both eyes together. Now he asks to wear his glasses because he knows he needs them. Before he started therapy, his vision was 20/80. After 12 weeks of therapy, his sight improved to 20/40.
I am very impressed with the results. I recommend Vision Therapy to others who struggle with vision problems.
Lisa W., Dylan’s parent
Brianne, age 18
My daughter, Brianne, now 18 years of age, has been a patient of Dr. X for 13½ years and her dramatic results have convinced our local area optometrist of the merits of Vision Therapy.
To begin with, our daughter was first seen by our local optometrist when she was 4½ years old, when her right eye was moving inward towards her nose multiple times during the day.
At the end of Dr. X’s examination, our daughter was smiling and she entered Vision Therapy at that time.
When Brianne was not quite l0 years old, our local optometrist performed an in-depth eye examination. I was waiting outside the examination room when this physician came out to me and emphatically exclaimed that there was absolutely no more evidence of Brianne’s eye problem.
He told me that after examining her eyes, he looked at Brianne to make sure she was sitting in the chair and not someone else, because he was flabbergasted at the results! He praised Dr. X’s work and our dedication to the Vision Therapy homework assignments, which brought these unbelievable results to Brianne.
Brianne has been accepted to five out of six colleges/universities for Engineering. At 18 years of age, Brianne is on her way to the University of Virginia this fall. Her eyes have not failed her!
Bonnie, Brianne’s parent
Will, age 10
We have seen the following changes in our son as a result of the vision therapy program:
- Is more physically coordinated: catches balls better, doesn’t fall down stairs as much as he used to
- Picks more challenging reading and attempts to read billboards, TV., signs etc.,
- Has more self-confidence
- Has stopped saying “I can’t read”
- Focuses eyes on tasks and eyes don’t wander
- Noticed his own eye “shutting off” at the beginning of therapy and has gotten it to “turn back on”
- Finds his place again in reading almost instantly after looking away
Mary Ann B.,Will’s parent
Aaron, age 8
Aaron started therapy with a weak eye muscle in his right eye, which caused the eye to move inward. Through Vision Therapy and the home therapy program, Aaron’s eye no longer moves inward and has strengthened.
Aaron has made tremendous improvements in both eyes since the beginning of his therapy. We have seen his vision improve and the frustration caused by his eye problem greatly diminish. He continues to improve and benefit.
The therapy along with the eye glasses has helped. I don’t believe that eyeglasses alone would have made all the changes we have seen.
I am very pleased with the support, therapy program and generous, caring therapist Aaron has had over the last three and a half years.
Cindy L. B., Aaron’s parent
Jared, age 9
When Jared began Vision Therapy his right eye was barely functioning. The eye was noticeably turned in and didn’t work with the left eye. His brain would rather turn off the eye because that was easier to do.
Through Vision Therapy, the brain has learned to make the eye work properly. When you look at him now, his eyes look the same and the right eye is straight. Before, you couldn’t tell where he was looking.
Jared was struggling with his school work, especially in reading. This in turn affected all his school work.
Now, he is reading and spelling ahead of the rest of his second grade class. He says he can see with his right eye now and is aware that it wasn’t working before. He could not catch a ball before, unless it was a big ball like a basketball. Now he can see smaller balls coming and can react to catch them.
Before Vision Therapy, we could see Jared walking into corners of doors and walls. He couldn’t see out of his right eye, so he couldn’t see them. He would have bumps on his head and bend his glasses.
It’s so great to see him making such great progress. It’s so nice to know that there is help for people who have vision problems.
Jessica, age 8
I was a bit doubtful of Vision Therapy until I saw the change myself in Jessica’s drifting eye and her schoolwork. Jessica’s grades have all gone up at least one grade.
She enjoys reading now and doesn’t dread it. As a matter of fact, she reads to her little sister all the time.
Tracey M., Jessica’s parent
Chris, age 5
Chris has worn glasses since the age of 11 months. He was far-sighted and had a very pronounced eye turn. His poor vision continued to affect his daily life. He had speech delay issues and his learning was hindered by poor concentration due to eye strain.
He was also uncomfortable in play situations because he had difficulty climbing ladders, stairs and maintaining his balance on beams at the playground. He received Vision Therapy and his vision improved greatly.
My family has seen unbelievable results. Chris’s improvement has affected his whole life. He has greater coordination, which can be seen at the playground. Chris can easily climb ladders and maintain his balance when playing.
Chris doesn’t tire as easily while doing schoolwork. Chris’s Vision Therapy continues to improve his vision and help with Chris’s daily activities.
Brittany, age 10
Brittany and her mom, Chris, are all smiles. For the first time ever, Brittany, a 4th grader, brought home a report card with “As” in all her academic subjects!
It used to be – before Vision Therapy – that Brittany and Chris struggled for hours every night (with frustration, tears, and arguing) to complete homework and study for tests. But the results did not reflect the great effort put into every task.
Due to deficiencies in eye movement control, the use of both eyes together, focusing, tracking, and poor visual sequential memory, Brittany’s perceptual abilities and motor skills (including balance) were nearly two years behind, she couldn’t even ride a bike with training wheels.
Brittany was unable to understand what she was seeing. She was confused by the printed page; her handwriting was sloppy and disorganized. Brittany said, “I thought I was ‘stupid’ – I hated school.” She was performing below grade level by second grade.
After friends told Chris about behavioral optometry [or developmental optometry], she searched until she found Dr. X. He developed an individualized program for Brittany, which addresses not only her eye turn but her visual motor and binocular problems as well.
“The changes have been life-altering for all family members,” comments Chris. Brittany has achieved success in school as never before, enjoys reading books on her own, can ride a bike, and is captain of her softball team (she even got an A in Physical Education).
Most importantly, Chris says that Brittany’s self-esteem has improved dramatically. She is happy and has confidence in herself.
Written by Doctor X with Chris, Brittany’s mom.
Haley, age 5
Here we are at the end of our daughter Haley’s therapy sessions and we can’t believe how far we’ve come. A year ago we were being told that our only option was surgery. She was diagnosed with intermittent exotropia, which means her eyes have a tendency to go out instead of focusing on what she’s seeing.
When a small child has corrective eye surgery, the likelihood of having to repeat surgery as that child grows is extremely high. One parent I spoke with had a child, who had just turned thirteen, and had just undergone his third eye surgery. The other parent I spoke to was anticipating a second surgery for her child.
I decided to do some more research and found Dr. X. During our appointment, he explained what we could do in therapy to remedy Haley’s eyes. We were going to give therapy a try and be a part of a system where we, as parents, were going to be active participants.
Here’s what life was like “before” Vision Therapy. First of all, we were lucky to have caught the problem when Haley was just four. Even though we’d always thought something was amiss, our previous pediatrician in NYC thought her eyes were just fine. But we were seeing various developmental things that made us wonder.
Things that were being dismissed by teachers and her doctor as “just part of her personality.” We have an incredibly bright and monumentally creative child. Yet she would not sit down and do a puzzle, unless I sat down for long periods and made the pieces come to life. In other words, by engaging her creative and compassionate side.
Basically, anything she needed to focus her eyes on, except playing with dolls. None of this made sense because she was so bright and inquisitive and creative. Our new pediatrician recognized immediately that Haley had a vision problem and we set about getting a diagnosis, which eventually led us to Vision Therapy.
And here’s how life has changed since Vision Therapy. I would say sometime about a third of the way through, we started to really see Haley focus on objects near and far and hold her eyes on people while speaking to them.
Then about halfway through, she just took out a puzzle one day and wanted to do it all on her own, and proceeded to do so. That just blew me away! She’s still not as fast at putting them together as others her age, but at least she has the interest now and she steadily improves. Now she can focus on what she’s looking at!
Haley had had a very difficult time focusing and getting her eyes to “fuse.” Now, it’s no problem. And now she draws every day. When asked what her favorite thing to do is, she says “Drawing.” We see her eyes focusing on things up close more and more. Even things like looking at her sandwich while eating it are positive signs to us. And now she can catch a ball with the best of kids her age, and probably better!
That’s one thing my husband has done with her every night since therapy began. It was always a part of her nightly Vision Therapy homework. And she’s developed an amazing throwing arm! It’s taken a lot of hard work, and hours and hours of life, but we can’t think of anything more worthwhile.
We are extremely happy that we took this non-surgical route. We are very happy and grateful patients!
Karen H. and Simeon S., Haley’s parents
Joey, age 6
When Joey was four-years-old, his mother, Judy, noticed that his right eye kept turning in. Worried, she took him to an eye doctor who diagnosed him with a lazy eye, or amblyopia.
This condition is an eye problem that causes poor vision in children and begins when the pathways of vision in the brain don’t grow strong enough.
To correct Joey’s lazy eye, the doctor recommended surgery. The Camisas balked at the idea of their little boy undergoing such an ordeal. In the meantime, Joey was prescribed eyeglasses with very thick lenses while his parents decided what step they should take next.
Fortunately, the family’s instinct to delay the surgery was correct. As good fortune would have it, Judy accompanied her father-in-law, an Eye Center patient, to his appointment one day. It was there that she and Joey met Dr. X.
Noticing Joey’s eye, Dr. X recommended Vision Therapy, a one-on-one treatment to improve visual function, performance and quality of life. All without surgery.
Relieved to find an alternative to surgery, the Camisas jumped at this opportunity. Joey underwent Vision Therapy for about six months, which included weekly visits and nightly therapy sessions with his parents.
“Within a couple of weeks, we noticed a big difference in his sight,” said Judy. “When he took off his glasses he could definitely see better and he enjoyed coming to the office each week. To this day, we are thrilled about what Vision Therapy did for Joey.”
Today, Joey is 15-years-old and his poor vision is a thing of the past. Joey is a good student and a talented saxophone player in a jazz band. He, along with his whole family remains thankful for their positive experience.
Can you relate to any of these stories?
If your child has been diagnosed with an eye turn, vision therapy can help train their eye-brain connections to improve their binocular vision skills.
Schedule a vision evaluation as soon as possible to determine if your child is a candidate for vision therapy.
What Is Intermittent Strabismus? »