Saturday, June 11, 2011

Should you get strabismus surgery?

I'm going to deviate from my normal topic for a moment and discuss my rare eye condition, as I know there are others out there like me who look for information about it on the internet. Here's my story, in completely lay terms:

I was born with Duane's syndrome (my right eye can't look to the right or to the left). I used an eye patch briefly when I was a kid and wore special glasses to help make the eye stronger.

I was born with both eyes able to look straight ahead when my head was faced straight ahead. As I got older, I had to turn my head increasingly to the left in order for my eyes to line up and work together. If I didn't turn my head, one eye would be focused on the object in front of me and the other would be off doing its own thing. For the most part I didn't notice it. It happened so gradually that it had just become second nature to me. But as you can see, over the years it had become pretty severe:

Looking "straight ahead"
I conversed this way, read this way, and even drove this way. A couple years ago I went to a top medical school and had surgery to correct the strabismus. It was a Children's Hospital, as strabismus affects mainly children, but the surgeons there will of course fix the problem at an age. I was put under general anesthesia and my pupils were sutured and pulled into a correct position.

While I am for the surgery and not against it, here's some information you'll want to know ahead of time to help make your decision and to make sure you have the best recovery possible:
  • Don't take any Ibuprofen for a week before the surgery as it acts as a blood thinner.
  • After the sutures are in place, you will be asked to wake up and wait for the anesthesia to wear off, and then the opthamologist adjusts the sutures as necessary.
  • As you're coming out of the anesthesia, it will take awhile to be able to open your eyes, and if they put a breathing tube down your throat, you may have a hard time talking at first.
  • If it's too painful to get the sutures adjusted while you're awake, it's possible for the anesthesiologist to put you back under for the surgeon to complete the procedure.
  • There will be a lot of post-op bleeding (bloody tears) that may take several days to go away.
  • Your eyes may feel sandpapery for several days.
  • If the sandpaper feeling doesn't go away after a couple of weeks, you may need to go in to get the exposed end of the suture trimmed, which is not painful.
While my recovery was more difficult than most, the outcome was definitely worth it. And while it is mostly a cosmetic procedure, insurance does cover it. Or at least it does in some cases... I can only speak for myself! Now that my eyes are aligned, I no longer need 10 and 12-strength prisms. I look invested in the person I'm talking to instead of annoyed or flippant, and I have become a better driver.

Hope this helps!

--Shannon Luders-Manuel


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Garnier Girls

Is it just me, or do the women of Garnier Fructis commercials have better hair before they "use the product"? Here is an example, not of one I've seen on TV, but of one I found on youtube:

We seem to have two parallel trends going on right now in fashion. One is a continuation of straight haired women being pressured to iron their hair even straighter, and the other is a comeback of big hair on the trendsetting platform of the runway. Granted, neither straight hair nor curly hair is better than the other. But in my opinion Garnier would be better off to show women with a lot more distressed hair in their "before" footage. Healthy hair, like a healthy body, should always be the goal no matter what form it comes in.

Women of the world: let's celebrate our curls!

--Shannon Luders-Manuel