Jack had trouble at school. The other kids in Jack’s class would call Jack names and bully him for having crossed eyes. Rory, the biggest bully in school yelled out to Jack during maths class, “Hey Jack, why is the teacher cross-eyed? Because she can’t control her pupils!”. Jacked looked baffled by Rory’s joke, it looked to Jake as though there were two Rory’s sitting next to him. “Stop looking at me cross eyes”, Rory continued. The maths class giggled at Rory’s jokes and were no longer paying attention to Mrs Honey.
“Rory, stop that now, your jokes are not funny or fair, leave Jack alone”, Mrs Honey firmly stated. “I want you to go to the principal’s office right away Rory”.
The continual bullying was becoming quite a concern for Jack and his parents so they decided to take Jack to see the eye doctor to see what they could do about Jack’s eyes.
The eye doctor was a quirky little man who wore thick glasses and a white coat. His office was filled with all sorts of interesting gadgets!
“Good morning Jack, my name is Doctor Sparrow. I hear you have been experiencing some trouble at school about having ‘crossed eyes’. I have seen many other young people in a position like yourself. Let me have a look at your eyes to see what exactly is the problem.”
Dr Sparrow had a look into Jack’s eye with the most extravagant piece of equipment Jack had ever seen! Jack very much liked gadgets and microscopes because he loved pirates and assembling pirate ships in glass bottles. Dr Sparrow shone a bright beam into Jack’s eyes and placed lots of little glass circles in front of Jack’s eyes until he could read a board in the distance clearly.
After an exhaustive examination Dr Sparrow was happy that he had figured out exactly what the problem was with Jack’s eyes.
“Jack, you have a little eye problem called strabismus, or ‘squint’. This is the most common eye condition in children and as many as 4 in 100 children your age have the exact same problem. Strabismus occurs when your eyes are not aligned properly, one or both of your eyes may turn inward, outward, upward, or downward.”
Dr Sparrow was making all kinds of silly faces to demonstrate. Jack and his mum chuckled.
“You can either be born with this condition, or it may develop later in life, it can just happen or it can be due to an accident or other health problem. In some kids, strabismus only happens every now and then, and in others it is always present”.
“I am very happy that you can and saw me right away Jack because finding out the problem early is essential to prevent loss in your vision. If your eyes are not aligned properly, you may lose vision and depth perception due to the misaligned eye, this is called amblyopia. This can occur even when your eyes are only slightly out of place, because your developing brain will stop communicating with the eye and will shut it off! This is why amblyopia is sometimes referred to as a “lazy eye”. Another complication of strabismus is double vision because your misaligned eyes are making two pictures according to your brain! This can be quite confusing to a young chap like yourself!
I say we treat this naughty eyes of yours! By treating your eyes early, you will be able to use your eyes together properly so they can develop together and you will end up with excellent sight and depth perception. We also don’t want you to develop amblyopia!” Dr Sparrow explained.
“What is involved with treatment?” Jack’s mother asked.
“Sometimes, eye doctors need to perform a procedure to realign the little muscles on the eye. Jack has a milder strabismus so it is appropriate to treat Jack with special prism glasses and eye patching.”
The idea of wearing an eye patch was exciting for Jack. “Does this mean I can dress up like a pirate?” He exclaimed!
“I would like to encourage you to use your lazy eye with occlusion therapy. To do this, we need to to discourage the use of your better-seeing eye with an eye patch. So you can dress up just like a pirate Jack!
“I would like you to wear this patch.” Dr Sparrow handed Jack a black eye patch with a skull and cross bones printed on it. Jack excitedly put the patch over his better-seeing eye.
“You need to dress up like a pirate starting with at least 2 hours per day and I would encourage you to do close-range visual activities such as reading, writing, arts and crafts. You will need to see me again in a few weeks to assess how your vision is going and we will increase the duration of patching to 4 to 6 hours per day. We will continue with patch treatment until your visual acuity is normal and maximal improvement has been achieved.”
Jack and his parents went home after their visit to Dr Sparrow feeling very pleased at how excellent Dr Sparrow was. Jack wore his patch and created the most beautiful and intricate pirate ship using only one eye!
The next day, Jack went boldly to school wearing his super cool eye patch. Normally, dress ups weren’t allowed at school and all Jack’s friends were jealous that Jack was allowed to dress like a pirate! Rory never bullied Jack again.
For more information about strabismus:
Eyesite is a unique internet resource designed especially for children and young people, promoting eye health and giving information about eye conditions and diseases. It contains age-specific patient information for three age groups, plus an animated eye, a virtual children’s eye hospital, games and other fun interactive features.
The RANZCO Eye Foundation is a not-for-profit eye health organisation. We represent more than 890 Australian and New Zealand medical eye specialists (ophthalmologists) who are passionate about giving future generations the best vision possible.