A few months ago we assumed that our oldest son had perfectly good vision.
Then I took him to his yearly check at the pediatrician’s office. He rocked out the vision chart using both eyes, and then again with his left eye. But when it came time for his right eye, he just giggled and shrugged his shoulders. The nurse got ready to write “uncooperative” on his report, but something about the look on his face told me he was serious. So I pressed for her to continue testing him.
After several minutes of him saying that he couldn’t see the letters, I was pretty much blindsided by the result. He couldn’t even read the 20/200 line, putting him at legally blind without corrective lenses. We had no idea.
Next stop was the opthamologist to have a full vision exam. End result, 20/25 in his left eye and somewhere around 20/250 in his right.
Glasses were prescribed and we were to come back in 30 days to see if they alone would correct the problem.
We went back. They didn’t. While there was some improvement ~ he could now see at 20/150 in his “helper eye” ~ his vision was still drastically unbalanced.
That was the day I first heard the term amblyopia. Not life threatening for sure, but still, without treatment the brain simply stops trying to decipher signals from the weaker eye. Over time, irreversible damage occurs. The ideal time to begin treatment is before age 5, and doctors seem to agree that if amblyopia goes undetected past age 10 that it is too late for vision to be corrected.
(And I was really put out with myself when I went back and checked his previous well visit reports. Each year for vision before the nurse had simply written “uncooperative.” We perhaps could have started correction for his condition a year before…)
Thankfully I haven’t had to kick myself too hard. After five weeks of wearing an eye patch “all waking hours,” his vision has improved drastically. He went from 20/150 to 20/50. His opthamologist thinks that by the end of this next five weeks that my sweetie may be totally done with his patches.
Until then though, we have two patchers in our house. While neither one of them are crazy about loss of periphery vision, anything you can share with your virtual twin makes it more bearable…
**End note ~ we’ve since had a full eye exam for our oldest daughter and have one scheduled soon for our newest addition. The US National Library of Medicine recommends that all children should have a complete eye examination at least once between the ages of 3 and 5. With two kids who came home with undisclosed vision issues, now I’m a believer.**