Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Public Service Announcement

I know a lot of the readers are moms.
I bet a large percentage of the kiddos are home schooled or go to private school (aka...no school vision screenings.)
I bet a lot of the kidos are little.
Please, I beg you, get annual vision screenings for the kiddos.
Get an optometrist to check them out as well if you can.
Often medical insurance will pay for it (6 hours on the phone with doctors offices and our insurance companies taught me this.)
Even if you don't think anything is wrong.

We have been taking the kids to the pediatricians for annual well visits as well as optometrist visits.
Just to be sure.
We homeschool and know our kids well.
We are well educated and hold five degrees in education between the two of us.
And yet, we were clueless...
We have a large and supportive family on both sides.
And yet, none of them noticed either.

It all started a couple of weeks ago at our 4 and 7 year old well visits.
W. could read the appropriate lines on the chart with his eyes together.
W. read the appropriate lines with his right eye.
When W. went to read the lines with his left eye, he said "I can't see anything."
The nurse thought he was joking around...but he was insistent.
He was getting frustrated with her.

The nurse brushed it off as being a kid.

C. read everything fine and enjoyed showing off (as usual) that she knew what it said...and tried to sound out the line...show off.

The doctor recommended that we get an eye eval from an optometrist...and was glad that everything was fine last year...it's a good sign that everything is fine this year.
But it wasn't.

On Monday we found out W. couldn't see out of his left eye.
We had to wait until Friday to find out the exact reason.
We  hoped that the optometrist made a BIG mistake (denial.)
We knew that most likely everything was healthy and he just needed strong glasses.
Just like every other family member.
We were trying to put out of our mind the possibility that something was really wrong.
And we were fortunate to have my brother talking us through the process...
giving tips, and reassuring us that it was going to be treatable...
He's an optometrist, but lives far away.
And last Friday, we got our answer...Ambylopia.

The more I read about Ambylopia...the more it all makes sense.
Crashing into things and falling down.
Unreasonable fear of heights and amusement park rides.
Hating to read or write.
Being extra "W.-ish" as my sister calls it...
We thought of it as being extra boyish and a bit immature.

But Ambylopia is very common and treatable...
That is if you discover it.
If it isn't taken care of by the time a kiddo is 8, their brain can become blind (not just the eye...the brain.)
After that you can treat it, but the results won't be as good.
Treatment is most effective when caught at a very young age (as it is usually present at birth and caught around age 3-5 so his case is unusual.)

So he can be treated, and if we are aggressive and work hard,
he will (keep your fingers crossed) get good results.
And the treatment isn't too bad.

He gets every little boy's dream...he gets to be a pirate and not just on Halloween.
He will be wearing a patch on his good eye for part of the day and glasses when he's awake
(which now by law have to be lightweight, scratch resistant, and shatterproof...)
The hope is that the weak eye will have to work harder if the good eye is covered.
This will strengthen the bad eye and hopefully correct the problem and teach is brain to see.

And that is my public service announcement.


  1. Here, let me try to make you feel a bit better. Both of my older two had checkups. Oldest passed the screening fine. Middle passed it with a few errors. They told me it was fine, he was distracted, it WAS dark in the hallway, etc. Middle came home a few days later complaining of a headache. That's how my bad vision was found (although I was older than he is so figured it out on my own). I figured he'd gotten it from me and tell him I'm taking him for a 'real' exam, will probably need glasses like Mommy, etc. He was NOT thrilled.

    I made appointments for all three kids. The kid who had headaches and messed up the eye chart at the dr. office? Perfect vision for his age.

    The kid who passed it fine and had no complaints or trouble? Needed glasses.

    I know you're a great Mom and pay attention. There's no way to be able to catch everything on our own. I agree with you that exams are very important and I'll be praying the patch does it's job for W. Don't beat yourself up about it, you're a great Mom and if you had had any idea you'd have been right on top of it, just like you are now. :)

  2. Batten the Hatches! I love my little pirate!!!!

  3. I have a son with this condition. He is 22 years old now. We didn't catch it until he was 6-even with screenings at the pediatrician. I agree all children should see an optometrist early! Praying all turns out well for your little one.

  4. Oh- so sorry you guys are going through this! Hugs to you and your sweet boy!
    And I must say, this PSA is good for me. I am the worst about yearly "just because" check-ups. I need to be better about them. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. I hope your little one is able to develop through this.
    This is such a good message, and wow I think a student at my school has this. I could not understand why the parents said they can't see in one eye, need glasses, but also have to wear an eye patch and he can grow out of it. I am going to read up on this. Thanks for the information and eye exam is on my list of things to do this summer for the little man.


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