Stories about: Duane syndrome

Our patients’ stories: Overcoming Duane syndrome

On Tuesday, June 21 at 6pm ET, Children’s Ophthalmology team will present a live, free, interactive webcast on Duane syndrome, a rare type of strabismus that causes a misalignment of the eyes. The webcast will include an overview of the eye condition and will present the case of Claire Kelly and the surgical procedures used to realign her eyes. Click here to watch the webcast, and read on for Claire’s story.

Claire Kelly before her superior rectus transposition surgery
Claire Kelly may have been born with Duane syndrome, a rare type of strabismus that causes a misalignment of the eyes, but she wasn’t aware of her condition until a less-than-subtle classmate brought it to her attention when she was 6. “One day in kindergarten this boy sat across from me at the lunch table and said ‘You’re cross- eyed,’” remembers Claire, now 9 years old and finishing up the third grade. “That’s when I first realized there was something wrong with my eyes.”


And while Claire may have been unaware of her Duane syndrome at first, her mother Abby recognized it almost from the beginning. Abby has a close friend who also has Duane syndrome, so she was already familiar with a few of the warning signs. When she noticed her 10-week-old daughter’s eyes weren’t as symmetrical as she thought they should be, she spoke to an ophthalmologist about early treatment.

“A doctor who specializes in Duane syndrome happens to have an office close to our home. He examined Claire and confirmed that she did in fact have it, but because she was so young he felt that treatment could wait until she was bigger,” Abby says. “So for the next few years we simply monitored her and waited to see how her eyes developed as she got older.”

But as Claire grew, her Duane syndrome became more pronounced. Then, when she was finally old enough to undergo the medical procedure that would correct her vision, Abby began to get a little nervous about potential problems that might arise post surgery.

“Because the eyes are so delicate, part of me was worried about complications from surgery,” she says. “It wasn’t until Claire came up to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m ready’ that I realized it was time. The next day we began researching eye procedures.”

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