Toddler's Eyes Crossing-- What to Expect from an Opthamologist

Updated on April 05, 2011
H.M. asks from Columbia, MO
7 answers

Hi Mamas,
Since the fall, we have been noticing that my daughter's left eye has been crossing periodically when she's tired. We called her pediatrician right away but since it had just started happening, she told us to keep an eye on her and let her know if it worsens in a few months (when she was in for her 3 year old check up)

So, we watched her and it seemed to happen periodically, typically when she skipped a nap and was very tired. I mentioned it again to the pediatrician when we were in for her 3 year check up and she referred us to an Optometrist that she highly recommended. We made an appointment and went in a few days later. He checked her out and said he didn't see anything going on out of the ordinary. (She was well rested then.) Her eyes were tracking well, her vision looked fine, though he did not dilate her eye. He said that he didn't see any need for treatment at this point and thought that her eye crossing might just be a phase. (At that point, it hadn't really been happening more than about once a week maybe.)

Fast forward to last week, all of a sudden, it started happening all the time. Daily if not more. And now she has double and triple vision. She's running into things, she can't grab things and her eye will stay crossed for hours. She'll put her hand over one eye to make things come back into focus again. I've tried to contact the Optometrist again. I even sent him a picture of her eye when it was crossing, but he's been unresponsive. I feel so sorry for her! I did some research and found a Pediatric Opthamologist in town and made an appointment there. But it's not for another week.

Does anyone know what we can expect from this appointment? Will he likely prescribe glasses? A patch? Both? What's the usual protocol for fixing something like this? And how long does it take to fix it for good?

Thank you for your help!

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answers from Sacramento on

I'm not a doctor myself, of course, but I had significant eye issues as a child, and one of my girls has an astigmatism that has required the care of a pedi ophthalmologist. What I can tell you is this. An optometrist is NOT the same thing as an ophthalmologist. Optometrists do glasses (only), not diseases/malfunctions of the eye. Ophthalmologists are qualified to treat the issue your daughter has, so that is definitely a step in the right direction. In terms of what to expect from treatment, it depends on what the problem turns out to be. I can tell you (as a person who had to wear a patch, in junior high, no less! Uggggh!) that they don't do patches anymore. They make glasses with one lens blurred. Nobody else will be able to see it but it makes it so the other eye has to work harder. So, don't worry that she will look like a tiny pirate! She won't. ;) It's good that you're catching this now. As I said, nobody caught my eye issues (lazy eye and astigmatism) until junior high - and by then it was too late to do much about it. Catching and correcting the issues before she learns to read is great! Kudos to you for noticing it and doing something about it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Canton on

My son has this problem (not as severe). But it was first detected by his pediatrician at his 3yr check up. He was sent to the opthamologist and he didn't see anything and we were told to come back in 6mths. Well, we went a total of 3 times (every 6mths). He was never able to see anything so we were told we did not need to come back. He is now 6yrs old and we took him to the eye dr recently to have his eyes checked. He was really over tired the day of his appt and the eye dr said it was really bad. He has him wearing glasses for the next 6mths and will check him again. He said if the glasses didn't help, he would have to try wearing a patch over it. The glasses aren't for vision but to help correct the eye. I can't remember what he said is in the glasses but it will help strengthen the weaker eye. So far it seems to be helping.

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answers from Houston on

This was my answer for a previous question posted about the same subject, hope it helps:
My daughter, 4 1/2, had eye surgery this summer for strabismus (eyes go outward). She did very well and no longer has any issues with her eyes drifting. We first noticed the problem when she was around 6 months old. The pediatric ophthalmologist monitored her condition until she was old enough that surgery would be beneficial. Doctor suggested doing patching when she was 3, but my daughter refused. We were told that she'd probably need surgery anyway. It started getting much worse after she turned 4, so surgery was recommended at that time. Also, she is very sensitive to sunlight which we are told by the doctor is normal with eyes that have trouble focusing. Anyway, I was really concerned after the surgery. Her eyes were very red and started turning inward for several days. She complained of seeing double. The doctor said this was normal and that the eye muscles needed time to adjust. Between a week and three weeks after the surgery, she wore a patch on one eye each day for an hour, alternating. After that, the eyes were completely corrected. No more patching. All in all, a very good experience (thought scary in parts). I hope everything goes well for you!


answers from Kansas City on

I have an aunt who had that and she's older so in her day they didn't do as much as now. Her one eye turned in all the time by the time she was older and then much older it started giving her real vision problems. She had surgery on it then to pull the eye in but by that time she is not able to see out of that eye. I would just recommend whatever a good doctor said to do early before permanent damage is done.



answers from St. Louis on

I am a therapist who practices a brain integration technique. Many of the people I work with experience various types of learning difficulties and a number of these clients also experience some degree of ocular muscle imbalance. In my work, we are often able to effectively improve the body's ability to balance and regulate the muscles that control eye movement with gentle acupressure techniques. I do not know of anyone who practices this type of technique in Columbia, but there are practitioners if Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis.

Occasionally, in more complicated cases, I will refer a client to a visual therapist. All ophthalmologists are required to be trained to provide visual therapy, which is basically coaching the patient like a personal trainer for visual exercises. They know how to teach the patient to exercise and improve control of focus and eye movement. However, it is highly doubtful the you will find an ophthalmologist that will actually take the time to offer this type of therapy because it is time intensive. They are highly paid doctors who generally prescribe corrections using glasses, patches, medications, or surgery.

Occasionally you will find an optometrist who has also been trained to offer visual therapy. An excellent doctor in West St. Louis County is Dr. Lisa Dibler. She is a devoted visual therapist who works almost entirely with children. I refer people to her often and have seen excellent results. I never refer children to any professional who is not very good with children.

You can find more information by Googling 'visual therapy'. You can also Google Dr. Dibler and get contact info from her website and ask if she might refer you to a visual therapist in your area. In many cases, visual therapy can be covered by your health insurance.

One optometrist I know in Columbia who is a very trustworthy gentleman is Dr. Jalali. I don't know if he is trained in visual therapy, but he is a brilliant man and is very honest. You could certainly ask him if he knows of a good visual therapist in your area.

One thing I feel it is very important for you to understand is that surgical procedures for this type of problem are often ineffective AND can diminish the possibilities for other therapies to succeed. Once surgery is performed, other therapies may be completely limited in what can be accomplished. So, it is usually considered far more practical to try the less invasive and often more successful therapies before considering the possibility of a surgical approach. In most cases, surgery is considered as the last resort and only if the problem creates a real handicap for the patient.

Keep in mind that visual therapy often requires diligence and daily exercises at home. It is not usually a quick fix and I do feel that, if you are going to seek the type of integration work I practice, that you get the integration work done first. If the visual therapy is still needed it is generally more effective and easier after integration.



answers from St. Louis on

I hope this may help keep your appointment for opthamologist however they may just prescribe glasses or recommend surgery there is an alternative I used to manage a pediatric practice for helping children with eye turns/ tracking problems they are a pediatric optometrists Dr Doell and Dr Davidson practice at the center for vision and learning off 270 and olive even though I no longer work for them I would highly suggest getting a second opinion through them you would not believe the amount of kids that have surgery and came there after with a new problem due to over correction from surgery and kids went through therapy and left much happier. They are also honest if its not gonna work they send you to a specialist who they feel is most qualified and they almost always dialate especially infant.


answers from Philadelphia on

my daughters was the same but not double vision we went to a pediatric Ophthalmologist within days of noticing it, they said it only takes 2 weeks for the brain to stop using the bad eye as much and then u have to patch to make it stronger...I would go asap...she probably J. needs daughter had that and was farsighted....which some kids grow out of, I did, but eyes are impt call another pediatric Ophthalmologist right awya...they'll dilate her and make sure...they saw my daughter the same day we called the pediatrician because they said eyes aren't something to messa round with and they wanted to make sure her brain (its so cool what they can tell from looking in the pupil)...was ok....which it was.....but I would call and make an appt asap...its nothing to worry about, J. glasses probably, but it could get worse if you wait

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