Strabismus Service, Adult
Strabismus surgery gives patient her life back
Janice Pauk thought that she was having an anxiety attack when she was driving and began to see red flashes before her. All of a sudden, she couldn't tell how far she was from the car in front of her.
She was relieved to make it home without an incident but was left with terrible vision problems. The incident sparked a five-year struggle to restore normal vision and search for answers.
"I had no depth perception," she said. "And if I looked to the right or the left, I would see double."
As her symptoms worsened, Janice noticed that her right eye was crossing. She was also experiencing frequent falls because of her vision restriction. Over time, she said, she feared she was going blind.
Searching for a cause
Janice's doctor in Florida, where she was living at the time, prescribed prism lenses that helped but made her glasses very heavy, she said. Meanwhile, to this day, she has never fully understood what caused the strabismus.
"I had had mini-strokes in the past, so perhaps that caused it," Janice said. "I have diabetes but have been told that diabetes does not cause this. My husband's neurologist thought I might have myasthenia gravis (a neuromuscular disorder)."
In fact, she said she was ready to join a support group for myasthenia gravis when she moved to Massachusetts.
Referred to Children's
Dr David Hunter When Janice came to Massachusetts she was still experiencing the same debilitating vision problems.
"By the time I moved I was wearing a patch over my right eye," she said. "That seemed to be the only way to block out the double vision."
Fortunately, Janice's ophthalmologist in Athol, MA referred her to David G. Hunter, MD, PhD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Boston Children's Hospital. Dr. Hunter, a pediatric ophthalmologist, also specializes in treating adults with strabismus.
"The moment I met Dr. Hunter I liked him," Janice said. "He was very kind and really seemed to know what he was talking about. Best of all, he told me that yes, he would be able to help me. I also knew that Children's Hospital is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, so I felt that I was in the best hands."
Janice had eye muscle surgery under general anesthesia in January 2005. The eye muscles that were causing Janice's eye to cross were separated from the eye and reattached to a new position with adjustable sutures.
In most adults, adjustable sutures are used to allow surgeons to make further adjustments to the eye if needed after the patient wakes up.
Thriving after treatment
"It was a huge success and a huge relief for me," Janice said. "I was able to take a trip to Missouri in April, on my own, to visit my aunt. For the first time in years, I was able to drive myself to the airport."
"(The strabismus) basically stopped me and stopped my life for five years," she said. "And that was really a problem because there's so many things I want to do in my life. Now, I'm doing them."