It’s April. Spring cleaning, windows open, and for my family, another child with an eye patch.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that last April my then-two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with amblyopia and prescribed occlusion patching of her strong right eye three hours per day, along with prescription glasses. That little firecracker is now approaching 20/20 vision, and her patch has never been an issue. She’s been a textbook case of resiliency and progress.
But we took my six-year-old son, who also wears glasses, for a follow-up appointment with our optometrist last week. He’s got a similar condition to my daughter, albeit much less severe, in that one eye is stronger than the other. If left unchecked, the strong eye will take over and the weak eye will worsen. And he’s approaching seven years old; the magical age when visual improvement dramatically lessens. In other words, if we don’t nip this in the bud now, we’ll miss our window of opportunity. So he was just prescribed an eye patch daily as well, likely for the next 9-12 months. Although his vision has improved since his last appointment, we are hoping occlusion patching will hasten the process further.
A year ago, when we were given my daughter’s diagnosis, I freaked out. I worried, I stewed, I lost sleep. This time around, the unknown is known. I know this can be fixed. I know my son will handle it, as my daughter did. I know this is not the end of the world.
For a long while, throughout most of high school, my career aspiration was to become an optometrist. Sometimes I wish I had, so that I could have a better understanding of the what/why of my children’s vision struggles. And today, as a chiropractor, I live and work in a world of science and anatomy. Every day I talk to patients about compensation injuries and about how “our bodies are very smart.” So how is it that I have two children, both visually challenged enough to require occlusion patching? My logical brain has crunched the numbers- the likelihood of this is 0.09%.
Oh, but mama guilt is a hard one to overcome. Could I have done something differently during my pregnancies? During their infancy? I’ve thought about Vitamin A and Ultrasounds and maternal viruses. I’ve replayed toddler moments, re-read baby books, looked over midwife notes. Or is this just a combination of genetics and luck-of-the-draw?
Rather than drive myself crazy with the what-ifs, I’m going to believe that technology advances in vision care have helped to detect deficits that may have remained hidden decades ago. We live in an age of medical knowledge and discovery, and with that comes human advances that weren’t possible in times gone by.
We’re lucky. They’re lucky.
And we’re all gonna be pirates for Halloween.