This is What the Truth Looks Like: My Daughter Went Cross Eyed at Three

In less than two months, my daughter’s eyes went from totally normally to being crossed more often than not. I still can’t believe how quickly it happened. One night at bedtime, as I lay cuddling her in the darkness, something made me turn on the light and look into her eyes. She didn’t seem to have control of them. Something wasn’t right. I was the only adult in the house and I worried she was having a stroke or something. She was acting normal and her eyes went back to normal pretty quickly.

It was two weeks until the next episode. This time at the dinner table and this time I wasn’t the only adult. I quickly changed back out of my PJs and into my clothes as I waited for her doctor to call me back. Surely we were headed to the ER. But since she had no other neurological symptoms and was acting fine, we were referred to a pediatric eye doctor for the next day. There they were unable to recreate the eye issues. They dilated her eyes and measured them, checking her optical nerve for swelling. All was normal, including vision. Then on the drive home it happened again, worse this time and lasting for several minutes. I took a video and turned right back around in tears to show the doctor. Her follow up appointment went from one year to one month.

During that month, we saw her eye issues increase significantly. She began squinting one eye to reduce the double vision caused by her misalignment issues. She began losing control of her eyes for longer periods of time and just about every day while still only when tired – before nap and bedtime. At the follow up we were advised to come back should it increase in frequency and duration throughout the day. The doctor didn’t want to rush into glasses – they won’t fix the problem, just trick her brain into aligning them when she has them on. When she’s not wearing them she’s likely to have crossed eyes. And then just in the week after the follow up it went from only at bedtime and nap, to happening at school, to happening more than not. And so we now try glasses. And I just can’t help but think of how this will affect her in her life and how quickly this became something she’ll most likely have to live with forever.

When she takes swimming lessons, she’ll probably have crossed eyes. When she baths, showers, changes clothes in the locker room. Even if the glasses work, there are so many times her friends will see her not wearing them. And children can be so cruel. And what if they don’t work? Well, that means surgery might work. And what if it doesn’t? What if? What if? What if she had cancer? What if she wasn’t here anymore? Those things are so much worse, but still I am struggling with this for her.

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I look at old photos of her. All I can see is her eyes. What she used to look like just weeks ago. I spent her last weekend without glasses trying to remember to snap as many photos as I can. But not many of the photos came out with her eyes aligned. We go to church and everyone notices. She has so much less control of them than she had just a week before. Everyone smiles and some comment, thinking my three year old has just learned to wink at people. What a cute little trick. But really, she’s struggling to not see double, trying to compensate by closing one eye. I’m not offended. I just explain what’s going.

So she will wear glasses. She will look different from here on out. Not bad, just different. Her small beautiful face will be hidden, if just a little. Will it be harder to kiss her little face, or smoosh my face against hers? Will we still be able to rub noses like Daniel Tiger? I spent a few nights crying, wanting to fix any little thing that might be “wrong” with my babies. But they aren’t perfect. No one is. I’m moving on now. Celebrating that I still have her and she is healthy and happy.

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5 thoughts on “This is What the Truth Looks Like: My Daughter Went Cross Eyed at Three

  1. Jenn,
    I really enjoying reading your blogs. This post in particular is close to my heart as I see patients like your daughter all the time in my own clinic. While I believe you have a wonderful team of specialists addressing her acuity and health, you may want to consider looking into vision therapy as an additional form of treatment. In my experience it is an incredible tool for helping patients maintain proper alignment and visual function. If you visit you will see a list of optometrists that evaluate visual function and can present additional treatment options.


  2. My son was diagnosed with refractive amblyopia and weven were told that he was legal blind in his right eye. I was devastated and felt so guilty. I worried about if he would be able to play sports with his friends, would be able to have the excitement of getting his license with his twin brother……a million thoughts went through my head and most of them landed me in a guilt ridden place.
    We started a course of treatment that was daily and not for the faint of heart. And my son has worn glasses since he was 18 months old. We are now working on strengthening the connections from his eye to his brain but we’ve made enough progress to know he isn’t blind anymore. And he loves wearing his glasses!
    All of this is to say that I hear you, I know where your are, where you’ve been and I’m in your corner.
    Btw, you daughter looks amazingly adorable in her glasses!


  3. Ugga mugga! This article brought me to tears just thinking about what you must have gone through trying figure out what was wrong – I know that worried feeling all too well. She looks very cute with her glasses. I’m so glad it was something that could be corrected. Much love to you!!!


  4. Big hugs mama. One of mine has glasses and, knowing their genetics, the others may very well be on their way also. Thankfully it has been a complete non-issue in our lives but I hear your worry and can definitely relate.


  5. She looks so cute in those glasses. And everyone will get used to seeing them on her. My brother’s kids (all 4 of them) had this eye issue and some had glasses, one of them had surgery and they did just fine. I’m glad you’re able to see it through “perspectacles”: the happy and healthy part is key!


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