I thought I might use my blog for a little public service announcement today.
Last summer our son Drew had his first eye exam per recommendation of the health department school screening system. What we learned is that he has deep Amblyopia in his left eye.
Amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye," has many causes. Most often it results from either a misalignment of a child's eyes, such as crossed eyes, or a difference in image quality between the two eyes (one eye focusing better than the other.)
In both cases, one eye becomes stronger, suppressing the image of the other eye. If this condition persists, the weaker eye may becomes useless.
This is precisely what was going on with Drew, and we were unaware. His eyes were not crossed, and he never complained of not being able to see anything because his right eye was seeing everything clearly. During the school screening, while covering his strong right eye, his left eye failed the simple testing. He was 5 years old at the time. Five years of decreasing vision in his left eye.
Can anything be done to treat amblyopia and prevent vision loss?
With early diagnosis and treatment, the sight in the "lazy eye" can be restored.
When should treatment for amblyopia begin?
The earlier the treatment, the better the opportunity to reverse the vision loss.
That is key. Early dianosis and treatment. Had we known in infancy or during Drew's toddler years that he had amblyopia, through eye patching we could have restored some of that lost vision. If you don't use it, you lose it. By patching the strong eye, the weaker eye is forced to be "used"
At his age the percentage of restored vision is significantly lowered. It makes me sad that NO ONE told us while our children were babies to have their eyes examined, and I imagine many of you were never advised as well.
I want to get the word out that there is a Public Health program which provides FREE eye exams to infants in the first year of life.
It is called InfantSEE
Please check into it if you have young ones at home. Especially if your child has a family history of vision problems, lazy eye, glasses. It can make such a difference on how your child will see the world for his entire lifetime.