Thanks to Early Treatment, 5-Year-Old Girl Has Promise of Normal Vision
September 2003 — At age 3, Mallory had surgery to correct the alignment of her eyes. Today, at age 5, Mallory sees the world in a whole new light.
"When Mallory was just a year-and-a-half old, I noticed that her eyes would cross, or one eye would turn the opposite way," says Carolyn, Mallory's mother. "I knew she had what is commonly called lazy eye, but I was concerned about her vision and what the long-term effects would be for her."
Making the Right Choice for Mallory
Fortunately, Mallory's parents were referred to Mark Dorfman, MD, Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Joe DiMaggio's Children's Hospital and pediatric ophthalmologist on the medical staff at Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West.
"Mallory was affected by a condition called strabismus, which occurs in about 4 percent of children. Strabismus is a visual defect where the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions," says Dr. Dorfman. "When this happens, two different pictures are sent to the brain. In a young child, the brain learns to ignore the image of the misaligned eye and sees only the image from the straight or better-seeing eye. Then the child loses depth perception."
Strabismus also may cause reduced vision in the misaligned eye. Such was the case for Mallory. "Dr. Dorfman explained to us that some of Mallory's eye muscles were too relaxed, while other muscles were too tight," says Carolyn. "To correct the alignment of her eyes and preserve her ability to have normal vision in both eyes, we opted for eye surgery."
This surgery involves making a small incision in the tissue covering the eye to reach the eye muscles. The eye muscles are then removed from the eye wall and repositioned, depending on which direction the eye is turning.
Like a Trooper
In June 2001, Mallory underwent the 45-minute outpatient procedure under general anesthesia and handled it like a trooper. "She didn't cry or complain about anything," says Carolyn. "Her father and I were probably more concerned than she was, simply because her eyes were so red following the procedure. Dr. Dorfman had prepared us for this, though, and within about a week, the redness went away."
Now Mallory wears glasses to continue strengthening her eyes. If necessary, another surgery may be performed as Mallory's eye muscles continue to develop. In time, according to Dr. Dorfman, Mallory will outgrow the glasses and should enjoy normal eyesight.
When asked about the surgery, Mallory responds with a light-hearted, "Now I have Blue's Clues glasses. My favorite color is pink. Do you like Hello Kitty?"
If you have concerns regarding your child's vision, consult your pediatrician. For referral to a physician, call the Memorial Healthcare System Physician Referral Service
at (800) 944-DOCS.