A Mysterious Case of Amblyopia: Eye Exam Awareness Month

This post was sponsored by Think About Your Eyes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Can my kid see, or what?

When Sam went to his 5-year pediatrician visit he failed the vision test. We figured he was likely near-sighted like mom and dad.

But when we took him to our ophthalmologist she said he was actually far-sighted, inherited from my father and brother. Like most people, I always assumed that far-sightedness (hyperopia) was simply difficulty reading up close. But in actuality it is not the opposite of near-sightedness (myopia), but an inability for the eyes to focus properly.

After six months of glasses we went back the ophthalmologist where we were disappointed to see no improvement. She recommended seeing a pediatric specialist. And after examination at a top eye hospital we were told that Sam had no real vision problem at all – glasses gone.

Six months later we notice that he still seems to have trouble seeing the whiteboard at school so we visit yet another ophthalmologist who can’t seem to put his finger on what is causing Sam to fail these eye exams. Finally, after very thorough examination, the doctor detects the slightest ambyopia, or “lazy eye.” We say slight because he doesn’t appear to have a wondering eye, but with further detection an ophthalmologist can see that his right eye is working hard to compensate for a weakness in his left.

What does this mean? Glasses again. Plus patching of the stronger eye for two hours a day.

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And it’s a good thing we caught it. If not detected and treated early on, amblyopia can cause significant vision problems down the line. Further, untreated hyperopia can cause problems with school work and even headaches.

The morale of this story: go to a pediatric ophthalmologist first. And when in doubt, get a second opinion.

Eye Exam Awareness Month and the “Think About Your Eyes” Web site highlights the importance of taking your children to the eye doctor for a comprehensive exam to get them ready for the school year. Experts say 5% to 10% of preschoolers and 25% of school-aged children have eye problems. Scheduling a comprehensive eye exam before school starts in the fall allows for an optometrist to catch and correct any vision problems that may interfere with learning. Early identification of a child’s vision problems is crucial as, if untreated, can cause permanent vision loss.

You can use this site to find a local eye care professional.

The good news is that eye care technology is more advanced than ever and many problems can be corrected without invasive procedures. Plus, most health insurance covers childhood vision checks, as pediatric eye care is a required benefit included on all plans that qualify as minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act.

And if your child does need glasses, fear not! Apparently these days glasses are the thing in elementary school. In fact, Sam’s best friend wears glasses with no prescription everyday, just to be like his buddies!

If your child is diagnosed with eye issues, I highly recommend the “Little Four Eyes” Facebook group for parent support. Even patching turned out to be no big deal!

Before the school year starts and your schedule gets crazy, take advantage of August as Eye Exam Awareness Month and schedule a comprehensive eye exam to identify issues before they cause problems.


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