My Journal - Week 59 (08Oct10)
Yes, that was a play on words and a eye chart.... Today Hunter had our first (legitimate) Optometrist appointment. I say "Legitimate" because Dr. Perry Mittelholzer is my cousin and he has seen Hunter's eyes before this but not in a clinical setting. Very convienient I must say. If Perry was not my cousin, and or he wasn't our Optomestrist, I would likely have taken Hunter for an eye exam much earlier....
Back when Hunter was about 8 weeks old, we had a Meet & Greet party for his arrival and also for one of my cousins (Jonny) who had been visiting from England. At that time Dr. Perry had a chance to take a look at Hunter's eyes and give his off duty medical opinion regarding his eyes. At that time he had told me that Hunter's eyes looked great and that they seemed to be focusing as much as they possibly could be for being 8 weeks old. Honestly there wasn't' much he could tell me at such a young age, other then the fact that at 8 weeks old, Hunter was barely focusing on anything more than my own face.
Skip forward a few months after his Meet & Greet, I noticed that Hunter's left eye seemed to cross inward (looking like a lazy eye) on a few occasions when he was tired. I wasn't terribly concerned at that point only because I knew that there was a high possibility that lazy eyes happen in children with Down syndrome and that is was correctable. After that point in time, the lazy eye seemed to vanish all on it's own.
Skip forward again to a few months ago and I noticed on occasion that Hunter's left eye seemed to be more runny then the right eye, weeping as if he were silently crying. (The odd thing was, he wasn't crying and his right eye was dry.) I receieved a copy of Exceptional Families Magaizne in early spring of this year which had a complete article regarding "Common Eye Problems in Children with Down syndrome". I was very happy to see this article because it defined and explained many possible eye aliments and their causes which can occur in children who have Ds. It also showed their likeliness by percentage and their symptoms. One of the eye issues listed was "weepy eyes caused by tear duct blockages" Although this sounded like an oxymoron (weeping caused by a blockage?) I was glad that there seemed to be an explaination for his one weeping eye. I immediately emailed my cousin and asked him of Hunter needed to be seen in case there was a possible blockage. He told me to bring him in any time. He also told me that unless there was gooey green discharge, his eyes were probably fine and that Hunter may just have allergies.
Onto the 8th of October - our real scheduled eye exam appointment. We arrived and Dr. Perry had his associate Optometrist (who specialized in Pediatric appointments) Dr. Jimmy Ing take a look at Hunter's eyes and do an eye exam. The funny thing was, at the age of One, there isn't much you can do in terms of testing eyes. It's not like you can ask the baby to read back letters to you on the wall, it's not like you can tell a baby to look over your left shoulder while he shines a very bright light into your eye, all the while not looking at the light? So, Dr. Ing was forced to do what he could to see if there was any inflammation or concerns with Hunter's eyes. At the end of about 20 minutes, Dr. Ing declared Hunter to be optically fit (with what he could see) and was also amused that Hunter sat and was happy with him for the length of time he did. (Apparently most babies (even older then Hunter) are usually done half way through what Hunter sat through. So it was good to know that Hunter's eyes seemed to be fine - not requiring any prescription at all and more over no infections or problems that could be seen. The interesting thing we did discuss was that despite the increased need for children who have Ds to need or require glasses, it was obvious (purly by genetics in our family) that Hunter would likely end up needing glasses - not because he has Down syndrome, but because EVERYONE in our family wears glasses - which included me from the age of 13 until the age of 32 when I had laser eye surgery.
Which moves me to my next point. I had my checkup right after Hunter. It had been a very long time since I had an eye exam because about 7 years ago Dr. Perry convinced me that I should have Laser eye surgery. I have to say - it was the best money I ever spent in my entire life. The Bochner Eye Institute (Then run by Doctors. Harold Stein and Albert Cheskes) was completely recommended for the procedure because my cousin was friends and went to school with with Dr. Harold Stein's son, Dr. Raymond Stein who now runs the clinic in Toronto with Jordan Cheskes. They took very good care of me, which included a life time of follow-up should I ever need it (but never yet have). Up until this date I never went back after the initial follow-up simply because I could see crystal clearly! I discovered at this checkup with my cousin that my eyes were 20/15. That means I can see better then 20/20! I honestly could not believe it! Perry was so happy that I was corrected to that level and also that it has stayed so stable. We were both ecstatic! I had not really realized that my eye sight was that good to this date! (After all, it was originally bad... -400 in both eyes before Laser eye surgery)
I have to say (and maybe this might sound like a public service announcement) I wish I had gotten my eyes done so much sooner. You never really realize what a gift eye sight really is until you have to put glasses on everyday, or deal with contacts every morning and night. After you have the surgery, you also get the chance to realize how much time and money was spent on personal eye care as far as prescriptions and or contact lens maintenance are concerned. It was worth the cost to have the surgery and also being able to submit it on my income tax as a medical expense was helpful. At the end of the day, it didn't cost me very much. The out of pocket expense was a bit more back then (as it is likely less now), but it was definitely worth it.