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….and all I got was this eyepatch!

January 13, 2012

The old joke – Mom and Dad went to ____ and all I got was this crummy t-shirt?

We lived it this week, sort of.  I took the boys for their first eye exam last week. Neither have shown any reason to need to get their eyes checked earlier – no squinting, no issues reading, no light sensitivity. Little did we know…

Both boys loved seeing how ‘alien’ they looked with these:

Connor got an all-clear…

Aiden, however, was diagnosed with Amblyopia (not to be confused by strabismus which is the crossing of one or both eyes). It is basically a deficiency in how his eye focuses, and then how the brain reads those images that it gets back. It is typically referred to as ‘lazy eye’, but it is just an anomaly where his eye  has no physical reason why it cannot focus, it just doesn’t. The optometrist said he’s too old to expect good results (typically, an eye matures around the age of 8 or 9), but that we should patch him – just get a play patch from  the toy section. That’s all we got from her. Oh..and the fact that his eyeglass prescription would make him look like a cyclops, so be prepared. (yes, a slight bit of hyperbole there, but it is just about all we got from her). When I would ask questions, she wasn’t forthcoming with more than, it’s just him, he’ll learn to live with it.

He had to have his eyes dilated, which was an experience in itself. The boy does NOT like knowing pain is coming, and she started out saying, “I have to put these water drops in your eyes and it’s going to hurt.” Yep  – that was a smart move. She couldn’t have known that about him, but it’s not necessarily something you want to say to a little one to prepare them for what’s coming. It took both of us holding him down to get the drops in, and he was really mad at me the rest of the day.

We got an eyepatch for him from the pharmacy and had him wear it all weekend. By Sunday, I was ready to tackle this thing that was effecting my boy.  I read and read and researched, and just wasn’t happy with the information that was given to me by the optometrist, when I was reading that there was more hope online. So on Monday, I spent a couple of hours on the phone between insurance companies and trying to find a pediatric opthamologist, and we had an appointment on Wednesday!

He was happy to get to look like a pirate. We’d been looking at different patch options, and he really did just want to stay with a plain patch because the rest looked so baby-ish. No Spiderman, no Batman, but the  camo did intrigue him.

What a difference that appointment made!  Dr. Davis of Pediatric Opthamology was wonderful with him, didn’t ask a lot of questions, didn’t make him look at teeny tiny letters ad nauseum, had some fun photos for Aiden to focus on while he did the exam. At one point, he said, wow…the boy has a lot of  astigmatism. Turns out..it was wicked, all right. He has different variations of it in different areas of his eyes, making it really hard to find where the refractory points are to get a good indication of how bad the amblyopia really was and how to correct it. So Aiden had to be dilated again, but this time with a child’s prescription of medication, and the Dr. was quick as lightening.  After more exam, and letting Aiden take control of the machine to adjust the focus points, Dr. Davis pronounced that yes, he does have amblyopia, but it wasn’t the worst case he’s ever seen, and he could be corrected to 20/40 from his 20/100, and that just wearing proper glasses would be therapy enough, he felt. We’d come see him in three months to see if there was any improvement, and if there wasn’t much, we’d start patching therapy. If we wanted to go ahead and patch a bit each day, he wouldn’t tell us not to, but he really feels the glasses will be enough.

So we went right out to Lenscrafters to get his glasses – and tada! The first thing he said when he put them on, with a HUGE grin on his face – I CAN SEE!

(and as we told everyone – that’s not a bad haircut, that’s a decent haircut on a boy with a bazillion cowlicks that never lets his hair lay the same way twice).

Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever? He picked out these glasses, himself. You can’t even tell he has a strong prescription in one eye! I’m so grateful God gave us the opportunity to seek out a second opinion and find out how to help him better. We’re looking at patching for one hour each afternoon to give him a little eye exercise, but will wait til the exam in April to go forward with anything more once we find out how he’s progressed.

So – the moral of this story is nothing, really. Get a second opinion. Sure, we could have taken the boys in for eye exams earlier, and we might have caught this earlier and begun treatment earlier. But Dr. Davis said this may not have cropped up until the last year or two. Not being in a traditional classroom setting, we wouldn’t have seen him squinting to read the blackboard, and because he showed no other signs like not being able to read street signs when he was driving, he wasn’t tripping over things as if he had no depth perception, and he was doing fine in school, and reads really well, nor did he ever express to us that he was having problems seeing, there was nothing to signal that there was an issue.  And sure, I do wish we’d gone in earlier, in hindsight. But it wouldn’t have ‘cured’ him – it would have just given him a little more treatment time. For now, we rejoice that it wasn’t worse, thank God for the intervention and trust that treatment will improve Aiden’s eyesight, and never rely on a megamart optometrist, again, for something significant 🙂

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