Aye, Eye(?) Capt’n

The catch up of the Summer break continues, but this deserves a page all of its own.  One of the many things we had been meaning to do and Lucinda finally managed to tick off the list over the summer was to take the girls to the opticians.  Both Lucinda and I wear glasses so the chances that our children will need corrective lenses of some sort in the future is likely to be high.  As neither of the girls had ever complained about fuzzy vision and neither have any problems watching the television, iPad or reading we never thought of it as a high priority.  However two things changed our minds and hence why we took them to the opticians to have their first professional check up.  The first was that Éowyn mentioned that occasionally she sees flashing lights in the corner of her eye.  Obviously this concerned us and so we felt it was imperative that she received an appointment.  The second was a seemingly throw away comment on Amélie’s reception year check up.  All children in the reception year receive a checkup, it is a general all-purpose check up but at least it may highlight issues while they are still young.  Amélie’s report said that she may have a lazy left eye.  Not really knowing what this was, and it sounds innocuous enough, we dismissed it a little but thought that the optician would be able to explain it a little more.

Lucinda was unable to get both girls an appointment at the opticians at the same time so Amélie, that we were not so worried about, went first.  She covered her left eye and read the whole chart with her right eye – perfect vision.  Then the shock came.  She covered her right eye and tried to read the chart with her left eye and couldn’t even make out the first letter on the top line, not just a lazy eye, but a bone idle eye.  Amélie was upset and so was Lucinda.  We had no idea that her eyesight in her left eye was so bad.  She had never complained and it hadn’t affected her reading, indeed she is top of her class for reading.

Amblyopia (the medical term for Lazy Eye) is relatively common and occurs when one of the yes fails to develop properly and so the brain relies on the ‘good eye’.  It is difficult to detect until the child is old enough to have a sight test (around the age of 4) because the eyes are still developing. The younger a child is when treatment starts the better the chance of curing the condition.  The good side of amblyopia is that it is not a physical problem, as such (although an underlying physical issue can have caused the amblyopia in the first place), it is a problem with how the brain processes the images from that eye.  Therefore, it is possible to reverse the effects though non-invasive procedures.

The first part of the treatment is to be prescribed corrective lenses, to encourage the brain to use the eye because it will be receiving useful images.  Amélie was at the opticians and so she was measured for glasses and they were ordered.  The report from the optician was sent to the local hospital so that an appointment with an ophthalmologist can review the treatment and suggest treatments and exercises.  The most likely treatment will be patch therapy where the ‘good eye’ is covered with a plaster to force the ‘lazy eye’ to work.  This retrains the brain to start using the eye again and with the corrective lens in her glasses this should reaffirm that brain/eye connection.

Although Amélie is nearly six and thus may be a little older than is ideal for catching the condition, she is still young enough to respond well to treatment.  We are just waiting for the hospital appointment and our chat with the ophthalmologist to fully understand the next stage.

Obviously Amélie was upset but choosing two pairs of glasses cheered her up a little.  She is also concerned about the patch therapy (even though we haven’t started it yet) and whether the other children at school will laugh at her.  I told her that she would be a pirate princess and that she would be able to make up some stories about her adventures on the high seas.  This seemed to work but we will have to wait until she begins the therapy to see how that goes.  She has begun to wear her glasses though and being five and six years old none of the other children have bothered her about them.  They are all very accepting.  Let’s hope the same can be said when she starts coming into school with an eye-patch.

Lucinda and I have both been on a bit of guilt trip about it because we feel as parents we should have known.  I suppose one of the many gifts you are given when you have children is parental guilt.  We could have, and perhaps should have taken her to the opticians earlier in the year but the outcome would have still be the same, but at least she would be further down the treatment path.  We keep thinking should we have noticed.  She doesn’t have any problems reading or watching screens.  She can catch a ball and doesn’t show any lack of stereoscopic vision.  Indeed if it wasn’t for the opticians tests we still wouldn’t know.  I suppose we could have asked her to cover her eyes and ask her to read an eye chart but, and maybe we are strange here, we don’t have one hung on our living room wall.  All we can do is help her through this and ensure that she follows the ophthalmologist and optician’s recommendations and hopefully in six to nine months it will be just one of those phases that has no far-reaching consequences.  She has been through worse with her cow’s milk protein intolerance so she is made of stern stuff and she will no doubt come through this with hopefully 20/20 vision by her seventh birthday.  As always, I will keep you updated through the medium of this website.

So, with that happening in the morning and with the Baguette that we didn’t think had a problem Lucinda was more than a little trepidatious to go back that afternoon with Éowyn.  As you may recall from the top of this page, Éowyn had complained that she had seen flashing lights in the corner of her eye.  This obviously rings alarm bells and the optician ran through a barrage of tests to ensure that there were no underlying causes for these lights.  After nearly two hours of testing the optician could find no problems with Éowyn’s eyes.  She has 20/20 vision and there were no physical reasons that she would have seen flashing lights and since it only happened once she put it down to one of those things.  She did caveat this with ‘Do not hesitate to bring her straight back if she sees the lights again.‘ something that I really don’t think that she needed to say to us!

So we wait with bated breath for the hospital appointment to discover the regimen prescribed by the ophthalmologist to hopefully restore Amélie’s eyesight to 20/20, but in the meantime there will be plenty of photos of our bespectacled daughter gracing the pages of this corner of the internet.  The photo below is from the day she picked them up.

Peace and Love


Amélie with glasses
Amélie with glasses