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Surgery Cures Child's Crossed Eyes

August 06, 2013
Lebanon, NH

by Tim Dean

What started out as cold or flu symptoms took a frightening turn for 8-year-old Lauren Harris and her family, when she woke up one morning last fall with her eyes fixed toward her nose, and feeling dizzy and sick to her stomach.

"She was crying and was extremely scared," recalls Lauren's mom, Kristina Harris. "She kept asking, 'what's wrong with me; why can't I see right?'" After a few hours, the symptoms became more intermittent and seemed to get better. But then they came back, including when Lauren was at school. "It made me feel like I was the only one in the world who had this sickness," says Lauren.

After examining Lauren and ruling out seizures, her doctor referred her to a specialist—pediatric ophthalmologist Erin Salcone, MD, at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. "Lauren had an acute case of esotropia or double vision," explains Salcone. "At her age, I was worried about her suppressing vision in one eye, which could become a permanent form of vision loss. It's also an important time in her life when she's developing binocular or 3-D vision. And with the eyes crossing, if it became more frequent, she could start to lose that potential permanently."

Lauren underwent a procedure with Dr. Salcone to surgically correct the problem at Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Outpatient Surgery Center (OSC). "They made her feel special, kind of like it was her day," says Kristina, of the caring and attentive staff members who are accustomed to working with children and specialize in same-day procedures. "My husband and I were so impressed. For anything I would need to have done, I would definitely have it done there."

"Lauren's prognosis is very good," says Salcone. "She had a great outcome initially, and she's maintained good, straight eyes."

Of her experience at the OSC—which included getting to decorate her own anesthesia mask, visiting the OSC's playroom and having her mom with her in the OR prior to surgery—Lauren says, "I'd probably say that it's the best thing that ever happened to me, because it fixed my eyes. If I never had that, I would never be normal again."

Photo: 8-year-old Lauren Harris and her mother

Of her experience at the OSC, Lauren says, "I'd probably say it's the best thing that ever happened to me, because it fixed my eyes. If I never had that, I would never be normal again." (Photo by Mark Washburn)

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