Son with Strabismus


My 3-year old son was diagnosed with esotropic strabismus (cross-eye) last week and we now have to decide which treatment option to pursue.  It came on suddenly in the past month after a stomach virus.  The doctor confirmed that a virus could be a trigger if there's a genetic predisposition.  We saw Dr. Oatts at UCSF Mission Bay and have a good feeling about him.  But we do want to get a second opinion since the procedures to correct it are invasive.  Has anyone in this group gone through something similar with their little one?  If so, can you share your experience?  Which doctor did you see?Did you have an MRI to rule out any neurological causes?  Which procedure did you choose?  Did you pursue eye-therapy?

Thanks so much!

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RE: Son with Strabismus ()

My daughter (now 9) also has strabismus (the other type, exotropia, where the eyes diverge). She was diagnosed a few months after turning 2. It was pretty upsetting, and I did a ton of research about doctors and treatments, worrying that the treatment recommended was not the best treatment. We did not have an MRI.

You didn’t mention if your son has constant or intermittent esotropia. In the latter, it’s very common and usually caused by differences in the eyes where one needs to work harder than the other to focus. I believe the treatment is usually glasses, at least at first.

Anyway, as for doctors, we have Kaiser and see Dr. Eddy Tamura. He has a very conservative approach - only patching and watching and waiting, doing surgery only if necessary to preserve vision or extreme aethestic reasons. I wanted a second opinion and went to a highly recommended doctor outside of Kaiser and paid out of pocket. That was Dr. William Good in SF. Dr. Good told me that he knew and respected Dr. Tamura and agreed with the non-surgical approach (surgery often needs to be done multiple times in a lifetime), but he said that doctors don’t quite agree on how to treat exotropia (I’m not sure if this is also true for esotropia, so it’s worth asking), and more research is needed to compare the outcomes of the surgical and non-surgical treatments.

So we patched daily for years. We also did vision therapy for a year or two with Dr. Grisham and Dr. Shoemaker at Rising Star Optometry in San Rafael. The patching and vision therapy definitely improved my daughter’s control. Her eyes still diverge when she’s tired, but she is aware of it, and can fix it if reminded.

I hope your son’s outcome turns out great too. Good luck on this journey!

RE: Son with Strabismus ()

Hi Friends,

Oh I feel you! Our son's left eye crossed and the end of Feb and it's been quite a ride! I've become a mini-expert on the issue. Our son is 17 months. It likely wasn't the stomach virus, but any virus that clogged his nose. The nerves that move the eyes are very superficial, and as such are extremely sensitive to, basically, inflammation, so any serious stuffy nose sort of cold could cause it. We were told it wasn't the stomach bug, for sure, and that the 1 cold he's had, ever, in January, was the cause. I'd be curious to hear your doctor's thoughts on the stomach virus as cause though. Anyway, we elected to do the MRI - most traumatic evil thing ever. UGH!! We elected to do a detailed eye exam at the same time, which allowed us to rule out any mechanical issues with his eye. However the MRI revealed an unexpected "spot" on his brain. We basically spent 2 months going to appointments all over the Bay Area, got completely freaked out he had a brain condition, and in the end - just back to treating his Strabismus! Aiy yai yai.

We've been patching his good eye 2 hours/day, per the specialist we saw's recc Dr. Hsu in San Ramon. (Got the MRI in Walnut Creek) I developed some eye "stretches" to get his left eye moving fully left (you can research eye therapies to learn more). Also OptoRehab w Dr. Laurie is a good resource, you can try for an appt or just for a phone consult, $60/30min. It helped me develop a plan to heal his eye w the stretches/patch/games to strengthen eye, etc. I also took him to some Craniosacral appointments with our wonder woman, Rachael ( The final straw towards healing, at least I think, was the homeopath we finally went to see. Melanie Elms, in Oakland. Literally the day after we took the remedy, his eye straightened out!!!! Like a friggin' million dollars later, but I'm so relieved. We've still had some crossed days, but overall he's clearly healing and recovering.

I seriously believe this can be healed without surgery. I think all the things we did helped, but I would start with the remedy next time, if there ever was a re-do. For the chance that it's the cure... so worth it!

I know this is a lot of info, but feel free to email me for more info, any parents dealing w this: rosemoonstone [at] This has been an EPIC journey.

Sending healing vibes your way!

Mama Em

RE: Son with Strabismus ()

My son had strabismus repair surgery at 13,mths if age, in 2007 with Dr Good. As a result, his vision is perfect & he’s the only one on either side of our extended family tree without glasses. Dr Good specializes in strabismus & id highly recommend him, even though you’d have to drive to SF or Marin. He’s continued to see our son for other neurological concerns — unrelated to the surgery, but needs monitoring. But the biggest reason for recommending the surgery, is my husband. He too has strabismus, and his mom chose eye excercises, which worked, for a long time — and then in his 40s he started to get double vision & killer eye strain headaches. He tried excercises, prisms I his glasses, etc, and finally in Jan 2019 had surgery with Dr Good. The results are great!! But the recovery at 51, was longer & more annoying then for our toddler ;)

get another opinion, but if they also recommend surgery — go get it done.