Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eye Doctor

I almost missed the fact that my daughter was going blind in one eye.

Neither my husband or myself wear glasses, so going to the eye doctor was never something that crossed my mind.  Of course I take my kids to the dentist, but I didn't realize that they needed a regular checkup with an eye doctor too.

One day Lucy happened to mention to me that if she covered up one eye, it was blurry to see out of the other eye.  When she said that, I immediately had flashbacks to her struggling with the eye exam at the pediatrician's office several years ago.  We thought she just didn't want to do it, never realizing that she couldn't.  We had all chalked it up to a moody three year old at the time.

I made Lucy an appointment with an eye doctor and anxiously waited the two weeks until they could get us in.  I casually asked Lucy several days later how her eyesight was, thinking maybe it was a blurry eye related to a cold or allergies or something.  She confidently assured me, "No mom, it's always like that.". I knew our appointment was not going to go well.

When the day finally came, both Lucy and Julia had check-ups.  In the doctor's office I saw a sign noting that alll children should have a full eye exam at age three.  No one had ever told me that!  The eye doctor mentioned it as well, saying that even the school or pediatrician eye exams cannot catch everything and it's best to bring them in for an exam.

So... Julia did great.  Lucy did great... with her right eye.  With her left eye, I watched her fail each letter as the doctor made them continually bigger.  I think she was able to see the largest "E", but nothing else.  My heart sank.  It was hard to watch.

Lucy's doctor was very kind and explained in simple terms that basically her left eye needs a strong prescription, and always has.  Because that eye is blurry, her brain has been ignoring it.  We never noticed issues with Lucy's eyes.  She reads very well.  She notices things far away and sees details.  She did not have any tell tale signs.  Her doctor said that because so many brain connections are made at this young age, if we had waited just a few more years to bring her in, it would be harder or impossible to get her brain to use that eye.  She could have eventually been declared legally blind on one side.

Lucy has what is called amblyopia, or lazy eye.  Her eye does not stray, it looks completely normal - her brain just does not use that eye well because of it needing the prescription.  Glasses will correct the vision, and then we will need to patch her "good" eye, to encourage her brain to use the newly fixed eye.

Thankfully, her doctor is confident that Lucy is young enough and can regain full use of both eyes. We received a prescription for glasses and waited the two weeks for them to arrive.  (Pinky purple with flowers on the side, she's absolutely adorable in them!). After four weeks of wearing the glasses, we returned for an exam today.  

As her doctor expected, Lucy still cannot see well out of her left eye.  We have seen no noticeable difference and she continues to say that one side is blurry, seeing only the biggest "E" again.  The glasses have corrected her vision, but now we need to teach her brain to use that eye again.  She will be wearing a patch for three hours every day.  We go back in six weeks for a check-up.  

Today was rough wearing the patch.  She cried and I felt terrible.  Tonight I found some cute patches online that I ordered her along with tiny glasses for her doll and a fun rewards chart.  I'll keep you posted on how she does.

Please take your children for an eye check-up.  Even if they can see perfectly.  It's something we will routinely do now and I wish I had known earlier, so I'm sharing our story with you.


  1. I feel you on this! Both my boys have lazy eyes (how weird is that?) I took my oldest in when he was 3 years old and the doctor said that since I can get him to refocus his eye (his wanders when he isn't focusing) that it "should" fix itself. But alas, it has not. I never liked that doctor's prescription anyways but I thought we'd give it a shot before going the eye patch route. I need to get both my oldest and middle child into the eye doctor again and this time with someone who will actually do something! Sorry Lucy is having a rough time with the eye patch. Guess being a "pirate" just isn't as fun for girls. Hope her eye improves quickly!

  2. It's awesome you caught it! We didn't catch our son's eye issues until he was 7 and he was going regularly for eye checks, it just wasn't until his reading issues that we suspected there might be more of a problem. Some bifocals with prisms and vision therapy has made major improvements. I hope the patching goes well!!! It sounds like you have a good plan!

  3. So glad she said something! Without any eye turn it may have taken a long time to notice she was having any problems. My three yr old has this, too (with eye turn) and sees a doc that specializes in vision therapy. So, he does about 30 minutes of eye exercise a day, glasses and patches a total of 2 hours a day (just recently). Since April he has shown wonderful improvement. I'm so thankful that we found a good doctor.
    This is so much more common than we think. There really should be more awareness for vision checkups when they are young. Good luck with patching, I know it's quite difficult at first. If you want to talk feel free to email me (it's in my profile).

  4. Cute kids glasses at that start at about $7 a pair (get the anti-reflective coating for the x-tra 5 bucks! It makes a huge difference) if she would like a back-up or extra pair. We love Zenni, and our kids have ordered frames from them for play. Soon enough they will be like their dad and I and having to wear them to see! I'm glad you took her description of her vision seriously, many parents would chalk it up to being a silly 3 year old. You're a good parent.

  5. I am so glad that Lucy mentioned the blurriness to you. Often times, kids don't say anything, because they presume that is "normal." Hoping your patching therapy yields the reward of improved vision!

  6. Wow I must be ""mother of the year" because going in for an eye exam never even crossed my mind! My daughter had an eye check two years ago at her 3 year appointment and I haven't thought of it since. I'm so glad you caught this! Thanks for the reminder. I guess I'd better hop to it.

  7. I have amblyopia I had surgery to correct it when I was 3, and to this day I favor looking out of my left eye over my right eye.. We tried patches and I was so stubborn! I hope she does better than me! lol

  8. We just took our daughter to an optician in Edmonton for the first time and found out she has an eye disorder also. Lucky that we caught it before it got worse!