New Sights: An Update on O’s Eyes

O just had a check up at the Ophthalmologist this week. As you may recall from my original vision post, O is seen by the same doctor who treated my husband 30+ years ago. The doctor just moved to a new office not far from the old one… but we felt like we were in a whole new world. The new office was a stark contrast from the old school office we were used too. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that our doc kept his old equipment along with adding all kinds of new technology. Below is his classic set of equipment, followed by the new stuff.     O did a little better at identifying the shapes this time…. because they were actual shapes. His old tests were of a classic desktop telephone, a duck and a stick figure on a bike. Most kids didn’t even know what the phone was! But I also think the thinner lines in these illustrations simplified it for O. O brought along her doctor kit. She often pretends to be looking in our eyes. I’m glad she’s so interested! And she continues to be very cooperative and well behaved for the doc and nurse staff.

Her exam showed that her lense prescription is doing its job and her muscles are responding well to patching. We were told to continue patching the right eye 3 hours each day and an appointment was scheduled for later in the summer. Over all, all is well!

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Painting While Patching

We finally have more updates on O’s Ophthalmology appointments to share! You may recall that she is farsighted (Rx: L +4.5 & R +4.00) with accommodative esotropia and amblyopia in her left eye. If you’re new to my blog you can read more about O’s condition and how we figured it out here, here and here.

We hadn’t had an appointment since March so we couldn’t wait to see how things were shaping up for her. We went last week to see what kind of progress she was making with her patching. We had been patching “as needed” an hour or two on each eye, depending which one seemed to have “weaker” muscles demonstrated by intermittent crossing of the weak eye. There is no real formula on how to determine how long a kid needs to patch… so even the doctors use educated guesses and trial and error to see what is working for her. The doc seemed to think she was responding very well to patching and is showing progress (verses regression or no change) in her strength. So good news! We continue daily patching for 3 hours on her right eye (strengthening her left).

Also, the exams are getting easier as time goes on. She is more cooperative, knows what to expect and is super excited to go to our appointments. But that last one may be based on the fact that we promise donuts. Hey, you do what works! Her appointments are easier for us too. Since she is less resistant and there is less crying, squirming and holding her down, then we don’t feel stressed or guilty about the situation. I personally am less anxious about the entire vision situation for her. In part because I’ve educated myself on her individual condition, possible outcomes and treatments and such. It’s much less unknown and so I’ve really had an easier time with it lately. I also credit a facebook group called “Little Four Eyes” for helping me through. It’s an online support group of sorts for parents of children in glasses. It has been a great place to compare notes, swap stories and pictures and find deals on patches. I also have found great gratitude for our situation. O has a considerably minor and easy to treat condition. Some of these kids are dealing with much more difficult or unusual diagnoses. Cataracts, glaucoma, strabismus, and so many things I’d never even heard of. Some have been through multiple surgeries already in their short little lives. I’ve realized how simple her condition is to treat and am so thankful we have the means to help her overcome it. We are blessed with great insurance and the added bonus of vision insurance, access to amazing professionals as well as consistent paychecks to help us pay for it all.

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We’ve been embracing patch time with O. She’s moved on from her recent playdoh obsession to now loving paint. She’s been watching me paint forever and I recently gave her brushes that she pretends to paint with all the time. My sister came over the other day and brought along paint and canvas. O was in heaven! We stripped her down (since this is acrylic), spotted several coordinating colors on each one and let her go to town. This way there wouldn’t be a muddy mix of colors since we kept them in the same family (pink, blue, purple and white) and we did it again with blue, green, yellow and white.

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We loved watching her paint. She was concentrated and intent with each stroke. I could tell she was taking pride in her work.

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She made two masterpieces. Once for our house. I think it may even end up on the gallery wall! And another for her grandparents.

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O had so much fun that she even stopped caring about being messy! Usually she has a paper towel by her side during every meal and craft. But today she let loose and jumped right in. Below is her forearm, complete with gold bangle bracelet and paint. We call her “Baby GotRocks,” you know!

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Posh Patching

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O had another appointment at her Pediatric Ophthalmologist to check up on how her glasses are working for her. You can read my post about O, her condition and our experiences in Pediatric Opthalmology here. The doctor was impressed with how well she has adjusted to her glasses and even more impressed with how much she embraces her “dasses” as she calls them. Not only does she leave them on, but she will adjust them for comfort or wiggle them on her face to be funny. My favorite part of the appointment was when the doctor was using a light to guide her eyes in different directions and O was opening her mouth saying “Ahhh!”. She went to the dentist with me the other day and the hygienist had her sit and watch my cleaning while she explained each step so that next time O can have a smooth first dentist visit. At the dentist’s visit, we taught her to open her mouth wide and say “Ahhh”… so she obviously was paying attention. Too bad she applied it at the wrong doctor’s office but it made me laugh!

The results of the visit were fairly simple. First, her glasses are working well for her. She seems comfortable with them and the prescription seems right. Also, her left eye is responding to the prescription (meaning its not crossing as much when she is wearing her glasses).  Second, there is room for improvement. Her left eye is the weak eye (with the +4.50 prescription and the esotropia/crossing) and could still use some strengthening. So the doctor wants her to “patch” for 4 hours a day until our next appointment in March. Patching means she will have her strong eye (in her case the right eye) covered with either a cloth patch over the glasses or a sticky band-aid style patch directly over the eye. Covering the strong eye will give the weak eye (her left) an opportunity to strengthen itself and encourage the brain to utilize the weaker left eye.

Fortunately, O has been cooperative wearing the patch. Although we’ve only done it twice so far, she hasn’t attempted to rip it off. The first time I put it on her I tried to make it fun. She likes to play with my make up brushes so while we were playing with the brushes and tickling each others cheeks, I took out the sticky patch and presented it to her. I put it on over her eye while we were looking in the mirror. I let her touch it and fiddle with it for a moment and then I slipped her glasses on so she could see herself in the mirror. Her response was “Oh, woo woo!” which in our house means “So pretty!” …For me I felt like that was a success. She was physically comfortable AND she felt like she looked pretty. Don’t get me wrong, her being pretty isn’t what is important. What is important is that she didn’t feel like she looks different than her usual self or funny. It doesn’t hurt that the sticky patches are printed with fun designs so it’s like a pretty new shirt for her. You can see an example in the photo above. I did give a feeble attempt to have her try the fabric patch over the glasses but she repeatedly just tore her glasses off. To me, thats a fail. It seemed easier to get her used to the patch and then put the glasses on over it. I also think that the sticky patch is less irritating because it stays still on the face, whereas the fabric one moves a little as she smiles, talks and plays so she feels it against her skin more.

Overall things are going well for her and I’ve been told by several professionals and friends who have had similar experiences that realizing her condition so early and treating at such young age is a huge advantage.