- Queen’s youngest granddaughter has had operation to correct squint
- Since birth, she has suffered from condition which turns one eye outwards
- She could have had serious vision problems in later life if left untreated
By Rebecca English
Prince Edward’s daughter has had an operation to correct a severe squint.
Since she was born, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor has suffered from exotropia – a condition which means both eyes do not look in the same direction.
If left untreated it can cause serious vision problems.
Successful: Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor’s transformation was first evident when the Earl and Countess of Wessex, attended a racing event at Royal Ascot in December
But the Queen’s ten-year-old grand-daughter is understood to have had corrective surgery on the advice of doctors – and her transformation during a recent visit to Ascot suggested it had been a success.
Her transformation was first evident when Louise, the eldest child of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, attended a racing event at Royal Ascot in December.
It could also be seen as she accompanied her parents, Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, to church at Sandringham on Christmas Day.
Although Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on her health, it is understood Louise, who in 2011 was a bridesmaid for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was first operated on when she was just a toddler.
Condition: Lady Louise has suffered from exotropia since birth – a condition which turns one eye outwards
As is often the case, however, it soon became clear that she would require further treatment when older.
Details of the surgery or whether it was carried out on the NHS or privately, have not been released.
But in most cases a paediatric ophthalmologist would carefully move the position of the muscles on the eye in order to make it easier to control.
Louise, who is tenth in line to the throne, was a much longed-for child for Edward and Sophie, who suffered the heartbreak of an ectopic pregnancy two years before she was conceived.
She was born four weeks prematurely in an emergency caesarean operation during which Sophie’s life was in peril. She lost nine pints of blood through internal bleeding and was said to be just minutes from death.
Condition: The Queen’s youngest granddaughter, pictured at the the Royal Wedding between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is believed to have been first operated on when she was just a toddler
To Sophie’s distress her daughter who weighed just 4lb 9oz, had to be transferred almost immediately for specialist care at St George’s Hospital, in Tooting, South London, while she had to remain 35 miles away in Frimley Hospital, Surrey, for another 16 days.
However she has since grown up to be a happy, healthy child who attends a local day school and bears an uncanny resemblance to her grandmother, the Queen, at the same age.
The two enjoy a particularly close relationship and often go riding together along the with Wessex’s son, James, Viscount Severn, who is six.
Royal family: Louise, who is tenth in line to the throne, was a much longed-for child for Edward and Sophie
The monarch is also frequent visitor to the family home, Bagshot Park, which is a short drive from Windsor Castle.
Although she has pointedly refused to talk about her daughter’s vision problems in public, it is believed that they inspired the Countess to become patron of the charity Vision 2020 and Global Ambassador of The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
Last year the Countess undertook a visit to India to publicise their work, visiting the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, where she witnessed patients undergoing sight-saving surgery.
EXOTROPIA – THE DISORDER EXPLAINED
Lady Louise Windsor attending a Sunday Church Service at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham
There are six muscles that control eye movement, four that move the eye up and down and two that move it from side to side.
All these muscles must be working in coordination in order for the brain to see a single image.
When one or more of these muscles do not operate properly, the eyes may not be aligned, causing the condition.
Exotropia is mostly seen in children, who develop the condition from a young age, but can also be affect adults.
Squinting or frequent rubbing of the eyes is a common side-effect.
As the disorder progresses, the eyes will start to turn out when looking at close objects as well as those in the distance.
If left untreated, the eye may turn out continually, having a significant impact on vision.
Around 35% of sufferers require at least one surgery to have the condition sucessfully treated, so many people try vision therapy first.
The surgical procedure to correction extropia is usually performed under general anesthesia and involves making a small incision in the tissue covering the eye in order to reach the muscles.
The muscles are then repositioned in order to allow the eye to move properly.
Following surgery, glasses may be needed and, in many cases, further surgery is required later to keep the eyes straight.
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