Monday, December 1, 2008

Childhood and Corrective Eye Surgeries


"The journey of real discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."  Marcel Proust

Welcome to my blog.  I am one of many people who live with a vision impairment called Strabismus.  I have lived my life without the ability to see out of both of my eyes at the same time, but can use them independently. The internet is filled with definitions of Strabismus.   One says it is,  "a vision condition where a person can not align both eyes..."  

I saw the world with both eyes for the first time this year in May of 2008 while doing Vision Therapy with Dr. Carl Gruning in Southport, CT at Eye Care Associates.  With the help of bottle thick prism glasses, after months of therapy, one day the office I was standing in suddenly popped into 3-D and I could not believe my eyes!  Here is my story of how I am learning to see the world in a whole new way.

I was born with straight eyes.  When I was two or three my eyes crossed.  Baby photos of me with crossed eyes are few.  I think I may have one where I was in kindergarten, wearing my favorite dress with apples all over it and looking into the camera with my big brown eyes turned toward my nose.   I never liked this photo growing up...it made me sad to see that I was unaware of how bad my eyes looked; the innocence of being a child and not knowing that I was not like other children.  Years to follow I learned how to have my photo taken at an angle, so I would never have to look at a photo of myself with my eyes going in different directions.   To this day, I still turn my head at an angle every time I see a camera pointing towards me, out of habit, out of shame...

I had my first surgery in Bridgeport, CT at the age of 3 or 4 to correct my eyes and it was unsuccessful-my eyes went crossed again almost immediately.   My second surgery was when I was 6 or 7 at Norwalk Hospital.  This second doctor left me with one eye pulled in the opposite direction ("you were wall-eyed" says my mother...), so I no longer looked at my nose, but out to the side towards my ear with one eye.  

Fed up with these two local eye doctors, my parents took me to The Harkness Eye Institute where I was operated on when I was 8 or 9 by the renowned strabismic surgeon, Dr. Phillip Knapp.   Thinking back, snippets of that surgery are so clear in my mind; passing by the overhead lights as my small body lay on a stretcher gliding down the halls, the black mask over my face, the awful smell of the orange scented gas filling my head as I was told to count backwards from ten and only reaching eight before I fell asleep.

3 comments:

  1. I look forward to reading your blog and your vision stories!

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  2. Hi,
    I just discovered your blog. I was also operated on by Dr. Knapp when I was very little. I've had five surgeries in my life. I read the Oliver Sacks article and Sue Barry's book and started Vision Therapy but my doctor, while very sympathetic, is not as motivated as I'd like. She fears that continuing will encourage double vision and that my eyes will fail to fuse. I am frustrated. I feel like she has not been aggressive enough. She was referred to me by Dr. Ruggiero, Ms. Barry's doctor, whom I called. But I wonder if you've worked with anyone in NYC? Or if your doctor in Connecticut might know of someone? Or I wonder how long it would take to go to Southport (I've even thought of traveling up to Massachusetts to see Dr. Ruggiero.) Anyway, I'm glad I found your blog, and I do hope to hear from you.
    Best,
    Stephanie

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  3. oh - I don't know if you can see my email... e_stephanie@mac.com.

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