updated 01/14/2008 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 01/14/2008 AT 9:00 AM ET
“She has strabismus, which is a turning in of one of her eyes,” her father, Larry Birkhead, 34, tells Entertainment Tonight, “and it’s something that we’ve been looking out for for a while.”
Birkhead, adding, “I’ve been taking her to the doctors,” also explains that when she was living in the Bahamas, Anna Nicole, who died Feb. 8, 2007, “had taken Dannielynn to the doctor to see about it when she was just a few months old.”
“Strabismus, more commonly known as cross-eyed or wall-eyed,” according to the Web site for the setback, “is a vision condition in which a person can not align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions.”
In addition, the site says, “It is estimated that up to 5 percent of all children have some type or degree of strabismus.”
Because Dannielynn is forced to wear an eye patch, “I got her a little pirate doll to show her that people wear patches, and it’s okay,” says Birkhead, “and daddy wears a patch if he has to to show her it’s okay. I’ve been really aggressive with the patch as much as I can be. At first she was really open to it and it didn’t really bother her. Now, she’s gotten a little smart because she can pull it off, so it’s a little bit harder for me to patch her.”
Birkhead is looking at surgery as an option of last resort, given his apparent bias against hospitals.
“I’m going to do everything to make sure that it’s corrected,” says Birkhead, “but having lost Anna and [her son] Daniel and my dad – my dad just came out of a simple surgery and he died – it’s just tough for me to think about surgeries with [Dannielynn].”
As for any speculation that her mother’s drug dependency during pregnancy may have led to her baby’s problem, Birkhead, who says he’s consulted doctors, says, “All of the opinions that I had … every one of them said that it’s very, very unlikely, because no one knows 100 percent what causes [strabismus].
“But I point-blank ask every single doctor, ‘Could any medications that Anna was on have caused this?’ And they said that it’s more likely that a genetic reason could have caused it.”