It’s heartbreaking to see Big Warrior struggle with her self confidence when it comes to her eye sight problem.
Poor little darling has Amblyopia, a condition that affects 2-3% of children according to the National Eye Institute. If you don’t know what Amblyopia means, it’s the technical term for Lazy Eye. Usually it means a person has one good eye and one bad eye that rarely gets used because the brain naturally prefers to utilise the good eye, hence the term “lazy” which refers to the bad eye.
Minor cases usually do not affect a person much, but in severe cases when combined with strabismus (crossed eye), the result can affect one for the rest of his/ her life. I should know, because I have amblyopia and exotropia (eye turning outwards). As there never has been any support provided whilst growing up, and no one seem to find it a problematic enough to mention my condition, my own condition wasn’t treated until I was in high school, my eyes are now monocular in vision, which means they operate separately from each other. I know exactly which eye I’m using when looking straight, which is kinda hard to explain to someone with normal binocular vision. LOL.
This condition played a huge part in plummeting my self esteem when trying to socialise or fit in. I was constantly conscious about the ways my eyes were, and found it difficult to look at anyone in the eye, fearing that they would judge me for my imperfection. It is quite obvious whenever I try to focus at something, whether near or far.
With Big Warrior, we always found she naturally turns to her right whenever focusing on something and have brought her to the optician since she was 2 to see if there’s anything wrong with her eye sight. We were told numerous times that it is something that she’ll grow out of. It wasn’t until she turned 3 1/2 that the optometrist finally agreed that something is amiss, and we were given a referral to Dr Geoffrey Lam, who was at one point of time Perth’s only paediatric opthalmologist.
Image credit: The Australian (Dec 15, 2011)
Dr Lam worked with us for the past 2 years trying to get Big Warrior to improve her eyesight by patching. We were supposed to patch 2 hours daily, but we were having difficulties getting her to fully cooperate on this treatment due to the self consciousness. She is, most of the time, obliging but it took a lot of persuasion and patience to get things going. In the end, we settled for patching every time she watched movies.
It was difficult, being a Steiner/ Waldorf parent, when it comes to the issue of gadgets. We practise minimalism when it comes to technology for the kids. No iPads, no TV, no laptops, no mobile phones, especially during weekdays/ school days. I’m moderate in the sense that the kids still get their movie nights every Friday and Saturday. I believe that preventing them from having any relationship with technology will only create rebellion in the future, so I let them have it on weekends, which is fair to me.
Surprisingly, we managed to survived the past 2 years, and even got through quite a bit of improvement. Her right eye muscle strength improved, from not being able to make out anything that is a mere arm’s length away, to now being able to see (though not so clearly sometimes) things that are 15-20 steps away. Having said that, it’s still a race against time for us, because the issue would be permanent if her eye condition doesn’t improve enough by the time she turns 8 years old. She has, according to Dr Lam, another 25% improvement to go before her right eye muscles can be deem as fully functional.
Here I’m praying that she will pull through the next 2 years so that she doesn’t end up like me. Honestly, having people stare at me because how my eyes turn outward isn’t fun. Why I wasn’t given a chance to treat mine is a grudge I hold till now. I know, I know, I need to learn to just let it go, and accept myself for who I am. But sometimes things are easier said than done. I try to be brave and just smile while explaining to someone (when they look at me weird) that I have lazy eyes… but it doesn’t get tiring having to do that all the time, especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time.
I hope that she’ll learn to forgive me in the future for forcing her to do something she hates now. 😥
If your child has Amblyopia, don’t ever feel that you’re alone in the battle. There are many moms like me who are facing the same problem. I was trying to avoid the topic as much as I can, but now that I’ve gotten this issue off my chest, I’ll be updating her progress whenever we see Dr Lam, which is about every 4-6 months.
And I personally think she rocks with glasses, no? 💕
P/s: I’ve included Dr Lam’s contact details below, in case anyone needs to see him. You’ll need to get a referral from an optometrist first though.
Dr Geoffrey Lam
8/20 Churchill Ave,
(08) 9380 9977