A little girl named Grace came into our practice with a very prominent eye turn outward – these outward turned eyes are referred to as exotropia. In most cases, exotropia is intermittent and not constant, and in some cases it might only be visible when the person is tired, ill or anxious. This condition can cause many problems. Some people describe that their vision is blurry or double, while others might be able to ‘feel’ that their eye is misaligned, even though they don’t experience any unusual vision. Some people might not even be aware of the condition at all, unless someone mentions it to them. Children might squint one eye in sunlight, or rub one eye consistently.
This is Grace doing a vision therapy exercise called the brock string, alternating her focus between different objects on the string.
For Grace, she had a very prominent case of exotropia. She was seeing double and blurred vision, and other kids would ask her whether she was looking at them, noticing that one eye was facing another direction. She also felt eye strain, and got frequent headaches.
When Grace first came in to us, she was already scheduled to have surgical treatment for her turned eye, but we decided to try vision therapy. We knew that even if vision therapy didn’t fully fix the outward turned eye before her surgery, it would at the very least help her achieve better binocular function after surgery. This is because surgery might make the eyes look like they are lining up, but it does not mean the brain knows how to use them together. More often than not, the visual input from one eye will be suppressed and there will still be problems with depth perception, tracking, and focusing. In vision therapy, exercises work to improve control of the eye misalignment.
Grace has now completed 12 weeks in our Integrated Vision Therapy Program, and is doing amazingly! She is one of the most motivated, happy patients we’ve ever had. With her hard work, Grace has gained significant control over her eye turn. It still occurs, but about 30% less often now. She is no longer in pain, no longer seeing double, and she has blurry vision less often. She’s also noticing less kids asking her whether she’s looking at them.
Our goal is to continue therapy with Grace until we no longer see improvements or until she no longer needs surgical treatment. We are so proud of her!
See testimonials from Grace and her mom, along with other patients, here.
By Dr. Nazima Sangha of Family Eyecare Centre