It is really nothing that major, just enough to be a little discouraging.
Jack had his annual eye exam a few weeks back. Yes, it was a few weeks ago and I am just now getting around to sharing...can we say busy life??? :) I was on facebook the other day and facebook reminded me what my status was 2 years ago (how sweet of facebook to have that feature) Anyway, the status stood out to me because it was about Jack's eye appointment. Here is the status:
"is so pleased with Jack's progress!!! In just 6 months the vision in Jack's eye... has gone from 20/400 (meaning he could only read the large E on the chart) to a 20/50 (could see about 4 lines now!) !!! Plus the patching for the amblyopia (lazy eye) went from wearing a patch over the good eye for 10 hours a day to NOW only wearing it 3 hours a day!!! PRAISES"
So fast forward 2 years to now:
Before this appointment I had been noticing that Jack was having trouble with his vision. If he was not wearing his glasses, I would catch him covering his left eye and only using the right eye to look at things. I had also noticed the left eye turning in much more often than it had been previously. (The turning in of his eye does not happen while he is wearing his glasses so that is a really good thing) For those who do not know, Jack has a condition known as amblyopia or "lazy eye". He was offically diagnosed with it in 2009 (finally) by the 3rd eye doctor we went to see. Yes, it took 3 doctor's...call it mommy intuition, but I knew there was something that was not right. And boy was I right, my child was nearly blind in the left eye by the time we got him to a doctor that knew what was going on. I am so glad we found the dr. we have and that he specializes in this condition. Jack has made wonderful progress through wearing an eye patch to strengthen his eye muscles and re-gaining vision in his eye. It amazes me what a simple task of patching an eye can do to improve this condition. When we first started the process in early 2009, Jack had to wear a patch over his right eye (the stronger eye) for 10 hours a day to force him to use the left eye therefore increasing the strength in the left eye. The patching process was very successful! So much so that in just a year and half, Jack was no longer wearing the eye patch. Now, he still had the condition, but it no longer required daily patching. Instead of seeing the eye doctor monthly (like we did to start with) we were on yearly visits so long as his eye did not turn in while he was wearing glasses. So fast forward a year...no problems with the eye turning in while wearing eye glasses, but I had noticed the other things (mentioned at the beginning of this post) so I was anticipating some set backs when we went to the doctor.
And sure enough...my intuition was spot on...again. As I sat in the room with Jack taking his eye exam I saw first hand just how "bad" it had gotten...Jack has lost some vision. :( I do not really know why. Guess it is just part of having amblyopia. I don't know. Now, it is nothing like it was on our first visit when he had 20/400 vision in the left eye. At our last appointment Jack had 20/40 vision in the left eye to now the vision is 20/60. I know, nothing like it was, but it is going in the wrong direction. Which means that the left eye is definetly not as strong as it was. bummer.
So...it is back to patching again for us. 2 hours per day, everyday. Patching the right eye (stronger eye) so that we can strengthen the left eye. The doctor was so funny about it. He told Jack that he gave him permission to play video games while he wore his patch. He told me, "how often do you have a doctor tell you to let your child play a video game?" I chuckled but I know that the idea behind it is to force him to use the eye. Now, no way am I letting him play video games for 2 hours just because he is wearing a patch. We tried to read with it on and do homework, but it was very difficult for him to do that, so we stick to games and just playing outside. Jack is great about wearing the patch. He rarely complains about it. Thank goodness. I can not imagine how annoying it must be. On those occassions when he complains about wearing the patch, I just remind him why is wearing it and that mommy wants to make sure the problem is corrected now so he does not have problems when he gets older. I have friends who they themselves or someone close to them has a lazy eye and they always express to me how they wish their condition would have been caught when they were younger because now it is too late.
Patching for 10 hours per day on a 4 year old was a task. We got through it though. Patching for 2 hours is nothing compared to 10 hours, but sometimes we have trouble finding 2 hours per day at home to wear the patch. Between soccer and dance class we stay on the go. I am sure some of you are thinking, just let him wear the patch out. We use to do that. But it never fails, everytime we have gone out in public with the patch on, we get some strange looks and on occassion some strange questions and comments. Most people just stare...which is so uncomfortable for Jack because he is a very shy child. We get the occassional "looks like someone has a boo-boo on their eye, did the cat scratch you?" to which I inform them about Jack's condition. A few times we have had people make comments like "bless his heart, that poor child" To which I like to inform them that he is fine, its just a lazy eye. But I am glad that these people ask instead of staring...the people who stare really bother Jack (and me to for that matter) I do not mind to answer questions, I just don't like the stares. So, because of all that, we prefer to be home when it is time to patch.
Jack is wearing the patch again. I have not noticed any improvement yet in the left eye. I have noticed a couple times that his right eye will turn in shortly after taking the patch off. I have noticed it 3 times. I know that does not seem like much, but this is new. The right eye has not ever done this. It has always just been the left eye turning in. So, I am keeping an eye on it. If it happens more, I will contacting the doctor's office just to make sure. If not, we will return for our follow-up visit in December.
So, like I said, minor setback...Jack will be fine. I am believing that God will improve it again this time just like He was faithful to do before. I sit here looking at Jack, with his patch on, and I think to myself how lucky we are to know about this condition. How lucky we are to get a grip on it now, so he is not faced with no vision in the left eye when he becomes an adult. I think about all that he can do...this condition does not slow him down at all...He is a straight A student, he stopped every ball that came into the goal during the soccer game this past weekend, he made all-stars in baseball...this condition definetly does not slow him down. He knows that God created him in His own image, exactly how He wanted Jack to be. And that is ALL that matters...not that he has a "lazy eye"...that does not define who Jack is, it is just how God created him. Part of the unique, special trait that God selected Jack to have....and He gave Jack (and his mommy) the determination to improve it. And we are believing it will improve. :) I will update again after our next follow up appointment.