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Dr. Ashcraft

Crossed Eyes (Strabismus) in Kids: Evan’s Story

Four-year-old Evan knows how to keep himself busy. On any given day you can likely find him doing one of his favorite things—building Legos with Dad, pouring over his Star Wars books, or playing outside with his brother and sister.

It was on Thanksgiving Day last year that Evan’s mom, Jeni, noticed something unusual about his eye. She said:

“On Thanksgiving morning, I was alarmed to see Evan’s right eye stuck in the corner by his nose. Previously we had noticed his eye crossing a little bit but we thought he was just playing. We told him to stop crossing his eye or it would get stuck. Now he couldn’t see straight ahead and he couldn’t focus his eye. I asked Evan how he could see and he said he was seeing double. I started feeling anxious about it, so despite it being Thanksgiving, I wanted him to get checked out that very day.”

Knowing it was a holiday and wanting to get a second-opinion fast, Evan’s mom called someone she knew and trusted—Grandpa Harold.

Evan is one of Dr. Ashcraft’s 10 grandchildren. Grandpa Harold brought Evan down to his office later that day for an eye exam. His right eye turned inward toward his nose, a sign of strabismus. Evan was referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist. Jeni was relieved after meeting with the ophthalmologist, who “assured us that this was something that could be treated”.

What is Strabismus?The Brain and Eye Connection

Each of our eyes has six tiny muscles attached to it. The brain constantly sends signals to these muscles and directs our eyes to move up, down, in, or out. Normally our eyes work together to focus in the same direction. But for people with poor eye muscle control, an eye can “turn” or wander in a different direction than the other eye. This condition where the eyes do not line up is called strabismus.

Strabismus is classified based on direction of the eye movement:

  1. Inward turning (Esotropia or “cross eyed”)
  2. Outward turning (Exotropia)
  3. Upward turning (Hypertropia)
  4. Downward turning (Hypotropia)

What Happens When Your Eyes Misalign?

When your eyes move in different directions, your brain gets confused because of the two conflicting images it receives. If this occurs often, eventually your brain will ignore the image received from the “turned” eye. The straight focusing eye will become dominant, while the “turned” eye will become the weaker eye.

This can result in:

  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing double
  • Affected depth perception (ability to see in 3D)
  • “Lazy eye”
  • Reduced vision in weaker eye

“Pediatric Eye Surgery and Strabismus” by Ophthalmology Ltd.

How is Strabismus Diagnosed and Treated?

Strabismus is most often diagnosed in young children, usually between the ages of 1 and 4 years old. It is not unusual for a newborn’s eye to sometimes wander, but this will usually stop by the time he or she is 4 to 6 months old.

Children will not outgrow strabismus, so diagnosis and treatment should begin as soon as possible.

young boy climbing a treeAt Evan’s first visit with the pediatric ophthalmologist, he was prescribed eye glasses to wear regularly. Later, he was also given an eye patch to wear for a few hours each day. By patching the dominant eye, the “weaker” eye is forced to work harder to see. The muscles and vision of the weak eye will get stronger with time.

If it is difficult to implement patching, special eye drops can be placed in the child’s stronger eye to temporarily blur its vision. Similar to the purpose of patching, this will strengthen the weaker eye by forcing it to work harder. If necessary, eye muscle surgery can help strengthen or weaken certain eye muscles causing eye turns.

So, how does Evan feel about his new glasses and eye patch? “It helps! And it is easier to see.”

In the past few months, Evan’s family has noticed that his eyes cross less frequently than before. While it took some time to get adjusted, wearing his glasses and eye patch has become part of Evan’s daily routine. Besides, it is actually kind of fun when you can wear your pirate eye patch out and about!

If you have noticed your child’s eyes wander, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ashcraft for an eye exam. The earlier diagnosis and treatment occurs, the better chance there is of a full and positive recovery.


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Surprising Health Problems That Can First Be Detected In Your Eyes

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It is amazing how much you can learn about someone in just a few seconds.

A facial expression quickly lets you know if a person is happy or sad, bored or EXCITED, stressed or carefree. Your first impression may suggest if this person is friendly and likeable, or something on the contrary.

You have heard the saying, “Eyes are the window to the soul”. It sounds cliché, but it has some truth to it.

Not only can you get a sense of another’s feelings just by looking at them, but looking into their eyes with a microscope provides important information about his or her overall health.

National Geographic’s “Eyes: The Windows To Your Health” shows there is more beyond what meets the eye.

Warning signs of certain conditions may be visible in the eyes before other parts of the body.

Changes in blood vessels or arteries in the back of the eye may indicate hypertension, or high blood pressure. There may be leakages or hemorrhaging in the blood vessels, a narrowing or change of color of the arteries in the retina, or even microscopic spots of blood on the sclera (the white part of the eye).

Signs of diabetes can also be detected. Chronic high blood sugar levels damage tiny retinal blood vessels, which can cause these vessels to leak a yellowish fluid or blood. This may be a sign of diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness among working individuals in North America.

Other health problems that can be detected in your eye include:

1) Autoimmune disorders

2) High cholesterol

3) Nutritional deficiencies

4) Thyroid disease

5) Certain cancers or tumors

Many eye conditions develop without immediate or noticeable symptoms, so early detection is key to prevent possible damage to your sight.

Dr. Ashcraft uses various tools during your annual eye exam to check for these warning signs, including digital retinal photography. This camera takes a detailed photo of your retina and is available within seconds, giving you the opportunity to see what Dr. Ashcraft sees in your eye. Taking these photos annually helps Dr. Ashcraft monitor any changes in your eye health.

At Family Eyecare Center, we want to make sure your eyes are as healthy as can be. To schedule your annual eye exam and retinal photos, give us a call at 310-670-4411.

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Valentine’s Special: Spectacular Things Done In The Name Of Love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Men and women have done crazy things in the name of love.

Some of these stories leave you wondering what on earth they were thinking. Other stories are so sweet that you can’t help but smile.

Perhaps YOU have a few stories of your own.

There was one man so heartbroken by the death of his wife during childbirth that he vowed to show the world his love and dedication to her.

That man’s name is Emperor Shah Jahan. The creation that resulted is none other than the Taj Mahal.

FreeSchool—The Story of the Taj Mahal for Kids: Famous World Landmarks for Children

As India’s most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal is more than just a monument. The construction of this white-marble mausoleum lasted 22 years. Its’ labor involved over 20,000 workers.

It is an immortalized symbol of one man’s love for this wife, breathtaking to all who see it.

taj mahal

This Valentine’s Day, celebrate the special people in your life! Whether through gestures large or small, show your love and appreciation for your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, parent, sibling, co-worker, or friend.

Of course, we want to thank all of our wonderful patients for making OUR job so special. We appreciate you!

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Content and pictures by Kendra Shiffler, who visited the Taj Mahal while doing humanitarian work in India during college.

She is the 5th of Dr. Harold and Kelly Ashcraft’s seven children.

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