Krissy is a 12 1/2 year old girl with Full Trisomy 18. Recently she underwent a surgery called a “Tarsorrhaphy” (tahr-sor´ә-fe) which in simple terms is where they stitch all or part of the upper and lower eyelids together to protect the cornea. Krissy needed this because she doesn’t blink enough and often sleeps with her eyes partially open.
We knew that infrequent blinking and poor eye closure was common in Trisomy 18 kids but because Krissy’s eyes are so big (and so beautiful!) and her eyelashes are so long and thick, it was hard to tell that they were slightly open. At about age 3 we started to notice clouding on her corneas. That’s when we realized that not only did Krissy not close her eyes completely at night, she also didn’t blink very often.
We started using lubricating drops in her eyes, ointment in her eyes, and even tried taping her eyes shut at night. Even so, over time, calluses grew on both corneas eventually growing over her field of vision.
In about 2007 Krissy underwent a corneal transplant in her left eye. The transplant was quite successful and her vision was cleared in that eye. However, nothing was done to help with the eye closure and we could see damage start to develop on the new cornea.
At that time it was suggested that we either have a Tarsorrhaphy performed or try a new approach, Gold Weights inserted into the eyelids to weigh the eyes down, promoting full eye closure. This helped but not enough, eventually the right eye needed a transplant and over time the damage started to effect both eyes again.
After a 3 week stay in the hospital over Christmas 2011, Krissy’s corneas were obviously going to need the Tarsorrhaphy. It was performed the first week of January 2013 as an outpatient at NW Surgery Center in Seattle, WA. After all the horror I had found online about this surgery I was amazed at how simple it was and how easy Krissy’s recovery has been.
Below are some photos of Krissy’s surgery and recovery experience.