December 11, 2011


A few months ago we assumed that our oldest son had perfectly good vision.

Then I took him to his yearly check at the pediatrician's office.  He rocked out the vision chart using both eyes, and then again with his left eye.  But when it came time for his right eye, he just giggled and shrugged his shoulders.  The nurse got ready to write "uncooperative" on his report, but something about the look on his face told me he was serious.  So I pressed for her to continue testing him.

After several minutes of him saying that he couldn't see the letters,  I was pretty much blindsided by the result.  He couldn't even read the 20/200 line, putting him at legally blind without corrective lenses.  We had no idea.

Next stop was the opthamologist to have a full vision exam.  End result, 20/25 in his left eye and somewhere around 20/250 in his right.

Glasses were prescribed and we were to come back in 30 days to see if they alone would correct the problem.

We went back.  They didn't.  While there was some improvement ~ he could now see at 20/150 in his "helper eye" ~  his vision was still drastically unbalanced.

That was the day I first heard the term amblyopia.  Not life threatening for sure, but still, without treatment the brain simply stops trying to decipher signals from the weaker eye.   Over time, irreversible damage occurs.  The ideal time to begin treatment is before age 5, and doctors seem to agree that if amblyopia goes undetected past age 10 that it is too late for vision to be corrected.

(And I was really put out with myself when I went back and checked his previous well visit reports.  Each year for vision before the nurse had simply written "uncooperative."  We perhaps could have started correction for his condition a year before...)

Thankfully I haven't had to kick myself too hard.  After five weeks of wearing an eye patch "all waking hours," his vision has improved drastically.  He went from 20/150 to 20/50.  His opthamologist thinks that by the end of this next five weeks that my sweetie may be totally done with his patches.

Until then though, we have two patchers in our house.  While neither one of them are crazy about loss of periphery vision,  anything you can share with your virtual twin makes it more bearable...

**End note ~ we've since had a full eye exam for our oldest daughter and have one scheduled soon for our newest addition.  The US National Library of Medicine recommends that all children should have a complete eye examination at least once between the ages of 3 and 5.  With two kids who came home with undisclosed vision issues, now I'm a believer.**


  1. This is SO important! We didn't discover our (bio) son's Amblyopia until he was a teen...and by then it was too late to correct. He compensates just fine...but still, he has no real useable vision in his left eye. It breaks my heart that we didn't catch it in time to correct it.

  2. Wow. You can bet I'm going to be discussing this on our next visit to the pediatrician.
    Thanks for sharing.. and they sure are cute in their patches :)

  3. We had this same shock last year. We thought our daughter's vision was fine until she failed her vision test at school. Took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with amblyopia. It was not as severe as your son's (only 20/80) and she was given corrective lenses. I think I will still ask next month about patching. If it can correct it to where she doesn't need to wear glasses the rest of her life - that would be wonderful!
    Your kiddos are super cute in their patches!!!

  4. I LOVE THOSE KIDS....patches and all!!!!

  5. Parents: see if your private practice optometrist sees children. (My husband only sees those who can read the chart.) If he/she does see children, schedule an appointment; they will be able to tell you even better than a pediatrician if you should see a specialist. If they don't see children, ask them for a referral to a pediatric optometrist. There's really no need to see an ophthalmologist unless there is a problem that an optometrist can't correct.
    But, get your children's eyes checked even as early as one or two years old!

  6. And the patches are WWWAAAYYY cooler than they were 'back in the day'!!

    hugs - nice catch - aus and co.

  7. My littlest man is just now 7 and we learned last April that he was blind in his left eye. His, though, is Visual Processing Disorder. We have never had to patch but continually do therapy to strengthen his weaker eye. At least he is seeing in it now! Praise God that you discovered the issue now and not later!

  8. I have amblyopia, but we caught it too late. In fact, they tried the patch when I was 8, but I ended up falling and breaking my arm, and it didn't improve my vision in my left eye. My vision is 20/100 in my left eye. I wish you all the best in improving your children's eyesight!

    And yes, get your child's eyes checked at age 3! We caught my daughter's vision issues early because of it!