An Interesting Challenge

Many parents struggle with limiting the amount of time their kids play video games. At our house, we have the opposite problem. Our daughter Sophia was diagnosed with refractive amblyopia when she was 2 1/2 years old. This is a type of lazy eye that is caused because she has one very nearsighted eye. Because the brain has a fuzzy image in one eye and a clear one in the other eye, it stops reading the image from the weaker eye which causes it to become even weaker. We were completely unaware that she had this problem when we took her in for her first eye exam, and were quite surprised to get this diagnosis. Her eye had not yet begun to turn in, and she could see fine (since her brain was only reading the clear image from the strong eye). We were sent for a second opinion, and once confirmed the first step for us was to get some glasses that she would wear, that would help the weak eye to see a clearer image.

The next step was to begin patching the strong eye, in order to force her brain to begin reading the image from the weak eye once again. Included in the prescribed two hours of patching a day, was the prescription for Sophia to play a handheld video game for the longest amount of time possible in these two hours to force that eye to focus on small objects.
Up to two hours of video games???? This really goes against the grain for me. I like to encourage outdoor play, creative play, reading… but now I have to encourage video games? This took some getting used to, and it sounds funny when I hear the words come out of my mouth “Sophia, it’s time to do your patching. Do you want to play the DS or the iphone?”. At this point, she is wonderful about putting her patch on, but not so wonderful about the video games. She doesn’t like to play video games, so this is a real challenge for us. I have found myself begging at times “Please Sophia, just play for 15 minutes!”, and trying to make it appealing for her by making a dark fort for her to lay in, or by regularly adding new kids games to the iphone so she stays interested. After a few weeks of doing the patching I remember thinking to myself for a while that surely it can’t make that much of a difference if she plays video games or not, and I began to just let her play when she was patching. Well I found out at our biweekly check up that sure enough, her eye hadn’t improved as much in that two week time period as the times before when she had played much more regularly. In fact, our optometrist looked right at me and said “She hasn’t been playing her video games, has she?”. Okay, I thought, she really does need the video games!
Some other challenges are the constant adjustments that have to be made to her bent out of shape glasses, as well as the regularly broken nose pads that have to be replaced. We are very regular customers at The Eyeglass Shoppe – thank goodness for the warranty on her glasses that covers all of this. It even covers scratched lenses, which we have had to replace. And the patch itself posed a bit of a challenge for a while. We were introduced to the type of patch that you tape on around the eye, and this just wasn’t ideal in my mind. It was a pain to use this, it was a little irritating for Sophia, and left a sticky residue around her eye that was difficult to remove from that sensitive area. I started to look online and found that may people use reusable cloth patches, so I got right to work and made a couple of these which work wonderfully.

The great news is that with her cute glasses combined with the patching, her weak eye is improving very significantly. She now only has to go get her eyes checked every 3 months, and each time we have seen an improvement in her vision. We are very thankful that OHIP pays for all of these eye exams! Another great program that we have just recently benefitted from is the eye see eye learn program that has given us Sophia’s second pair of glasses for free!!! This is a new program that just started last year that allows all JK students who receive an eye exam and need glasses, to receive a free pair – cool right?

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