A year before they adopted their son, Andrew, from Poland, Dana and Michael Parsons learned he had drooping eyelids and strabismus, an eye condition sometimes known as lazy eye where the eyes do not align correctly. Knowing both conditions were treatable, the Parsons made an appointment to meet with a physician soon after then 4-year-old Andrew came to his Henrico County home.
Much to the Parsons' surprise, the physician recommended surgery that had a three-week recovery period and required 24-hour-a-day care. They sought a second opinion from Evan Silverstein, MD, ophthalmologist at CHoR, who suggested a less invasive procedure to lift Andrew's drooping eyelids followed by careful observation to determine if his strabismus would correct itself.
"It was a great relief," recalled Dana of Dr. Silverstein's recommendation. While she said he did not rule out the possibility of a second surgery, the Parsons appreciated his more conservative approach.
Watching and Waiting
"I consider myself a conservative surgeon," said Dr. Silverstein. "For patients with strabismus, sometimes glasses can treat the problem while other times an eye patch or careful observation is necessary. When surgery is indicated, however, I recommend it."
When Dr. Silverstein met Andrew he said, "Andrew's eyelid droop was pretty severe. He had to tilt his head back to see."
On December 14, 2015, Andrew underwent successful eyelid lift surgery. The same-day procedure involved making five tiny incisions on each side of his eye to implant small silicone rods in his eyelids and connect them to his forehead muscles.
"The next day was a miracle," recalled Dana. "He bounced back quickly, and you could instantly see his eyes."
A new outlook
"Andrew's control of his strabismus improved significantly after his eyelid surgery," said Dr. Silverstein, who continues to check Andrew's progress every six months. "The majority of the time his eyes are straight."
Before the Parsons met Andrew, he wore glasses, but at this point, Dr. Silverstein said he doesn't need glasses or additional surgeries.
When asked about Dr. Silverstein and his visits to CHoR, Andrew's smile and sparkling blue eyes said it all.
"From the first time we met him, Dr. Silverstein made Andrew feel comfortable," said Dana.
A year after surgery, Andrew is an energetic kindergartener who loves soccer, baseball, jumping on trampolines and playing school with his sister. He continues to have some eyelid drooping and eye wandering, especially when he is tired. A reminder from his parents to open his eyes quickly fixes the problem. Michael said the family will continue to follow Dr. Silverstein's lead regarding next steps.
"For a little boy who came from another country, he has acclimated so well," Dana said. "Dr. Silverstein took our circumstances into play, and the outcome worked out well."