Colton Champ’s strabismus bites the dust. The 4-year-old Queen fanatic is on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with strabismus (misaligned eyes) when he was just 18 months old.
In February, Colton underwent surgery here to correct the crossing of his left eye to improve his vision and depth perception.
As Colton rolled into the operating room, he heard his favorite song, “Another one bites the dust” — or as he calls it, “Another one eats the dust” — by legendary rock band Queen. The music video was playing on the big screen and nurses, Akron Children’s Pediatric Ophthalmologist Dr. William Lawhon and the rest of the operating team were smiling, dancing and singing along.
“The nurses told me they could tell Colton was nervous, but when he arrived in the OR he began to bob his head, too,” his mother Hollie Champ said. “It made it much more relaxed and fun for Colton, and not so sterile like a typical OR experience. The fact that they went so far above and beyond for Colton, I knew they would take good care of my son and it put me at ease. If you ask Colton now if he wants to have surgery again, he says, ‘Yes!’”
As an infant, Colton’s left eye seemed off center at times, but his parents brushed it off thinking it was just the way he was looking at them. They had hoped he’d grow out of it because doctors had told them it’s typical for an infant’s eyes to be misaligned at times.
But as time went on, it continued to get worse and it was apparent something was seriously wrong. At 18 months, Colton, who inherited his love for Queen from his mom and his favorite DreamWorks’ movie, “Small Soldiers,” was diagnosed with strabismus by a doctor in Pittsburgh.
The misalignment in Colton’s eyes was so severe that it caused his brain to ignore images from his left eye early on. What’s worse, his left eye was much more far-sighted than his right eye. Together, the crossing of his eyes and severe difference in prescription left Colton with very poor vision and depth perception.
Soon, Hollie noticed Colton’s fine motor skills began falling behind his peers. He struggled to do puzzles, write or draw, and especially play ball because his depth perception and hand-eye coordination were was so far off.
His doctor in Pittsburgh recommended Colton wear glasses full time, as well as patch his right eye in hopes of improving his vision.
“We hoped by patching his right eye, it would force the brain to use his left eye,” explained Hollie. “The doctor thought it might kick start the left eye in hopes that his vision would improve.”
Unfortunately, his eye continued to get worse so the West Virginia-based family moved Colton’s treatment to the Vision Center, an Akron Children’s Hospital Center of Excellence, based on a family recommendation. They are patients of Dr. Lawhon’s and absolutely adore him and the treatment the kids have received.
“When I first met Colton, I could tell he needed a change of course,” said Dr. Lawhon. “I knew once we got him in the right pair of glasses and successfully aligned his eye, he would be on the road to recovery.”
Indeed. Colton’s surgery was a success and just a few days later, his eyes were straight.
He still has to wear a patch over his right eye up to 4 hours daily and continues to wear glasses to help improve the vision in his weaker eye. But with his eye in proper alignment, there’s no looking back for Colton. He sees a bright future ahead of him.
“Words cannot express how thankful we are for the amazing care,” said Hollie. “Dr. Lawhon has been amazing. We truly felt like a partner in Colton’s care and treatment. Everyone on his team did a great job at making Colton and us comfortable.”