I can’t really say we knew my daughter had an eye problem before her annual physical after her fourth birthday, but I know we weren’t surprised when we were referred to an ophthalmologist. Lexie has always been a clumsy child. My husband often says it isn’t “if” she will knock over her drink it is more a matter of “when.” She does spill quite a few drinks, and sometimes she has turned and walked into the wall or a shopping cart. But we chalked it up to her being young and not paying attention.
Now we know the cause of the problem is that she has amblyopia (sometimes called “lazy eye”) in her right eye. Basically, one of her eyes developed good vision while the other eye does not focus properly. In essence, the doctor said she is not seeing out of her “bad” eye. I soon learned that this is quite common – effecting 2-3% of kids. Caught in early childhood, it can be corrected.
We were first given a pair of glasses to help her vision. Lexie picked up a pair of pink frames and wouldn’t look at any others. I thought that was fine as long as she liked them. And she did like them until she had to wear them. A few days after having glasses, she declared she hated them. And thus began the battle of getting her to wear them. She is constantly asking to take them off or sometimes just takes them off, and then I panic that she left them on the floor where anyone can step on them. Finally, we have her where she is wearing them about 75% of the time. (She can’t wear them in the bath or the pool and with a hot Texas summer, she is enjoying a lot of both of those.)
We went back to the eye doctor at the end of July. He told us what I had been dreading. She would need to wear a patch. The instant I heard the word patch I envisioned all sorts of battles. She screamed bloody murder when the doctor tried to patch her eye briefly during the eye exam. He gave us a couple of samples of a Band-Aid-type eye patches that you can buy at your local store. Then he gave us a sheet of paper with information about purchasing “kid-friendly” eye patches from a website. I went home and quickly ordered girly sparkly patches that have mermaids, hearts, princesses, ladybugs and teddy bears on them.
In preparation of having to make her wear a patch, we bought her some pirate stuff which of course is next to impossible to find in July. I also bought a few small prizes to help entice her to wear the patch. We told her about wearing the patch and how it would make her eye better. She didn’t sound excited about the patch but did like the sound of getting some pirate swords and hooks for her and her brother to play with. I still was expecting a battle and waited for the special patches to arrive which they did two days later.
My daughter was so excited when she got the box. She wanted to wear a patch right then. She wanted the one with ladybugs. She is supposed to wear the patch for four hours a day. It was an hour before bed, but we let her wear it. The next day when I mentioned the patches, she wanted one with mermaids. She made it for the four hours. And so it has been every day. She is excited to wear her patch. Sometimes she gets tired of it and wants to remove it early, but that is where those small prizes come in handy. I just give her one and that distracts her for a while, and we are able to get the required four hours done. In two weeks we will go back to the doctor to find out if her eye is improving and how much longer she will remain a part-time pirate. I am just thankful that she loves these patches and we aren’t battling everyday to get her to wear them.