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Nurse Susan
Nurse Susan, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1091
Experience:  RN, BSN, MSN-ED, Nurse Educator whose passion is helping people understand their health and wellness
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My 2 1/2 year old son (whom has a complex medical history)

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My 2 1/2 year old son (whom has a complex medical history) recently started showing extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Every time we go outside, he buries his head in my shoulder or staggers around trying to see through covered eyes. He also has been holding his head and covering his ears frequently. Especially when he cries. He won't even go by a curtain open window or door. Today, I had to shut off the lights just to get him through lunch. His eyes (and under his eyes) started turning red and instantly he began to cry and cover his eyes and hold his head. I turned the light off and he had instant relief. This is brand new and is increasingly getting worse. Should I take him to an optometrist? His pediatrician? Put a call into his team of Mayo Clinic doctors? Is it common for toddlers to show these symptoms?

I am so sorry to read of your sons distress. I would like to try to help, but I need some more information. What is your sons complex medical history? While no one online can diagnose or state anything with 100% certainty, the more details I have, the better my resultant guess will be.

Thanks for clarifying,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

His medical history seems to be unrelated, but he has a feeding tube due to swallowing issues and little to no hunger. He also has sever reflux which he is on meds for. He also has reactive gastropathy, irritation in the lining of his stomach and an intermittent gastric emptying delay. He has a surgical hx of supraglottoplasty to reduce the size of his epiglottis (it was too big and obstructing his airway) when he was about 6 months old. He had an MRI last year that appeared normal (he was passing out when he cried frequently, so they wanted to rule out seizures). He also aspirates when swallowing. Other than that, nothing really that have directly or even indirectly affected the eyes.


Your little boy has been through allot, and so have you. I have worked with medically complex children and I know how hard it can be on their caregivers. I need to stress again that online (or offline for that matter) I cant diagnose or state anything with certainty. I can only make educated guesses based on what you wrote.

The extreme light and sound sensitivity you write of is not normal at all. Given your sons medical conditions, I would indeed consult with the team at the Mayo Clinic. Even though they are likely GI specialists, they would be able to refer you to an appropriate pediatric neurologist. I think a neurologist is your best bet there; this is something that may be too complex for your sons general pediatrician. But you can certainly run the issue by him or her and see if he/she agrees with my recommendation for a neurology consult. I think this may be a neurological issue (issue with the nerves and or brain) which is why I think a neurologist is a better bet that an optometrist. There are also specialists called neuro-optometrists and neuro whose focus is on the interaction between the nerve systems and the eyes; neuro optometrists focus more on how we see...perhaps that is an avenue you can discuss with a neurologist as well. I also think it is important that all your sons health care providers be informed about what is happening with your son so appropriate care can be coordinated.

This issue is getting worse, not better. I think you absolutely should give the team at the Mayo Clinic a call as soon as possible. Though your son had an MRI last year they may wish to repeat it to make sure there are no lesions or growths that are causing this issue.

I hope I was able to help, and that your son feels better soon.

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