Friday, April 20, 2012

One More Thing To Keep Your Eye On!

As parents, we are bombarded with health recommendations and warnings. Every now and then I break out in a cold sweat with sudden panic that I might be forgetting something important. Are their shots up-to-date? Are they getting enough vitamin D? Are they getting enough exercise? For months I was plagued with guilt that my children had not yet been to the dentist (for shame!). Finally I made an appointment and (phew!) their teeth were fine. 
The last thing we want is ONE MORE THING! Well, I’m about to give you ONE MORE THING. You’re welcome.
The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their eyes examined between age two and five. Did you know that? I didn’t either. 
Of course their eyes are fine! It will be obvious if something is wrong with their eyes, right? Lazy eye? That’s when one of the eyes wanders or something. 
That’s what I would have said a month ago. Now I know better. So I’m telling you because it’s important.
Caleb was just diagnosed with amblyopia (lazy eye). As a toddler, the vision in his left eye started to deteriorate. The images from that eye became progressively worse to the point that his brain started to ignore them completely. So his vision continued to deteriorate in that eye to the point that it is now 20/300. He also cannot see color in his left eye. We had no idea!
Caleb has always been advanced in his learning. He learned all his letters before age two and started reading at age four. So we never would have imaged anything was wrong with his eyes. 
At his four-year well-child visit, the nurse conduced the routine eye exam. With his right eye covered, Caleb had trouble reading the chart. We didn’t think too much of it and the doctor didn’t even mention it. However, when the same thing happened at his five-year checkup, we decided to make an eye appointment. 
That’s when we found out about the amblyopia. And that’s when we felt like awful parents! The opthamologist asked questions like: “Does he trip and fall a lot?” “Ummm...yeah...*gulp*...we just thought he was clumsy.” Apparently, for the best outcome, amblyopia needs to be treated before age five. Caleb is five-and-a-half. But we are very, very hopeful. Fortunately, the opthamologist we were assigned to specializes in amblyopia and has even had success treating teens.

Thankfully, treatment is a patch on the good eye for only two hours a day. So far it’s going well (I’ll keep you posted). We are keeping things very positive. On the day the glasses arrived, we all went out for dessert to celebrate. The thickness of the left lens was a bit of a shock to Michael (I forgot to prepare him for that) and he had to blink back tears as he smiled and told Caleb how great he looked. Faith is insanely jealous that Caleb has glasses and she doesn’t (I remember wanting glasses MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD at her age).

On the first patch day, we all wore an eye patch for two hours - even Faith (there may or may not have been bribery involved!).
Seems like there is always something we parents have to deal with. We can be very thankful that this is the worst thing we’ve had to deal with so far. 
I just want to get the word out that eye exams are important. At least be aware of the symptoms.
My apologies for adding ONE MORE THING!
Here’s some info for parents of small children:

Click here for Info on amblyopia

Here’s a book we’ve been reading (coincidentally, the family in the book looks a lot like ours!). 

Other books about getting glasses: 


  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?


  2. Hi Amy,
    I was just wondering how Caleb is doing now with his amblyopia. Now that its been several months - have you seen any improvement. Patching in the summertime has been challenging for my daughter but she is determined to "be done with patching" so we persevere. I blog her 'journey' with it at Amblyopia Kids and am always looking for families to share their journey there as well. Feel free to drop me an email, I'd love to compare notes.