· By Tiny Hearts Education
Immy's Glasses Journey
Immy's Glasses Journey
When Imogen was a newborn, we noticed her eyes would occasionally cross. After speaking with a maternal health nurse at our 8 week check up, we were told this was perfectly normal and no need to worry. Her eyes were just developing.
As the months went on, we noticed this continued to happen. We couldn’t make it happen and it was so intermittent that often nobody else noticed. I remember when Immy was around 5 months old, I noticed it was happening more frequently. I would randomly google search or check the Mum Facebook groups, just looking for any information we could find to say this was still perfectly normal. Everything I read said it should stop after 4-6 months but I was seeing no change.
When it came time for Immy’s 6 month vaccinations, I made an appointment with the GP and thought I would bring this up with him. His response was blunt and made me feel like a dramatic first-time mum. “Can’t do anything until they are 12 months old, so don’t worry about it” he said. I accepted the answer as the doctor was the medical professional, not me but deep down it didn’t sit right. I pushed the negative thoughts into the back of my mind but each day I noticed her eyes would turn in, sometimes the right, sometimes the left, sometimes both. As much as I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t.
Fast forward to our next maternal health nurse appointment, I mentioned Immy’s eyes occasionally crossing to her and she said “I actually just noticed that”. Finally someone other than us had seen it! I explained we had seen the GP but we were told nothing could be done until Immy was a year old. She understood my concerns but unfortunately couldn’t offer any medical advice of her own. However, she did ask me if I’d spoken to any optometrists. “No” I responded “Should I?”, I’m not sure why it hadn’t crossed my mind to go straight to the experts. After discussing further with the maternal health nurse she suggested there was no harm in calling the optometrist just to get some definitive answers. She wasn’t an expert in eyes, neither was the GP, so what is the harm in asking the question to an Optometrist?
And so our eye journey began…
I first rang Specsavers and asked if they see babies, they said no but referred me to a fantastic local optometrist, Dr. Marvin Janet at Eyecare For Kids. When we had our first appointment with Dr. Marvin, he was 99% sure he knew what the issue was but couldn’t perform the test himself as his drops were too strong for Immy’s little 8 month old eyes. So we were referred to a paediatric ophthalmologist, another incredible expert in the field, Dr. Elaine Wong.
The test performed is known as Cycloplegic retinoscopy and is used on babies and non-verbal patients. This test involves relaxing the eye and dilating the pupils with ophthalmic drops. The doctor can then use a retinoscope to look into the dilated eye and measure how the eye refracts light to determine the level of eyeglass prescription required. Immy results came back as +7.0 in one eye and +8.0 - a very strong script required for someone so young.
Following her test, Immy’s condition was predicted to be 1 of 2 things - Strabismus or far-sightedness. Both treated initially with glasses, if Immy’s eyes no longer crossed it is safe to assume it was caused by poor vision (far-sightedness) requiring glasses for life. If the eyes continued to cross even with glasses, the diagnosis would be Strabismus and it would require surgery to correct the eye muscles. Both Dr. Marvin and Dr. Wong were confident it was far-sightedness but only time would tell.
As a parent, I was devastated to hear of this news and my mind raced with thoughts. I felt silly thinking that I assumed it would be as simple as some eye exercises. I felt guilty I didn’t trust my gut and listened to the GP 3 months prior. How on earth was I going to make a baby wear glasses? What if she is bullied at school? I could go on and on. Nobody wants their child to experience any inconvenience but we had some answers, it was time for action. As soon as we could, we filled Immy’s script, ordered a pair of glasses (which were thankfully fast tracked due to the severity of her poor eyesight).
The day we picked up Immy’s glasses was not the magical social media moment we had expected where the baby can see for the first time and smiles the biggest smile. However, there was a definitely difference in Immy’s behaviour. Dr. Marvin put on Immy’s glasses and she was immediately distracted, looking around as if to say “Wow, where did all this detail come from?”. I looked at my baby girl with her adorable new glasses, I could see her world had changed.
Immy has had glasses for two months now and she is absolutely thriving. From going on this journey, we now know the reason Immy’s eyes would turn in was because she was trying so hard to focus on what was in front of her. Before glasses, simple things that I felt Immy was not interested in, crawling, eating etc. etc became second nature to our little girl within a few days of having her glasses. All of these things about life that must have been so confusing to her with blurry vision, now made sense. She was always a happy baby but we felt like this took her to a whole new level. And to our delight, for the most part she keeps her glasses on (unless she’s tired or bored of course).
To finish up our journey, we recently received the news Immy will require glasses for life but no surgery is required. I’ll take it as a win.
So Mums, Dads and Carers if something about your child doesn’t sit right with you, follow it up. Be the “overprotective, first-time parent” because if you don’t advocate for your child, nobody else will.
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