Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vision and Hearing Link

In March, Belle came home with a pinkslip from school saying she had failed her vision screening. This led to us getting diagnosed with Amblyopia and heading on this journey. Then, in late April, just a month after starting patching practically full-time, she came home with another pinkslip. This time it was hearing.

I thought, this couldn't be. This is the kid that can hear me break into a snack or soda from rooms away. She doesn't seem to have any hearing issues. Granted, I said that about vision - and look where it got me. Could she also have hearing issues? Is my daughter going deaf? And Blind? Yeah, I got panicky and emotional and protective...

Two days later she was at the pediatrician for a routine visit and while she was there I asked them to screen her hearing. They did. And, she failed again. The nurse told me that she didn't respond to the beeps at all on her left side unless they were on the loudest setting.

My son has a history of ear infections and had ear tubes, Belle not so much. I mean, she had a few ear infections but she is generally pretty healthy especially compared to her brother. So - since I already had a great ENT with a full audiology unit - I scheduled an appointment.

I've been going nuts trying to research a link between amblyopia and hearing loss, or hearing issues. I really just in my heart and gut felt that the 2 were linked. I also wondered because both tests were done when she was patched if that affected her scoring. I also wondered if she just maybe didn't understand the instructions or if there could have been some fluid in her ear. The pedi said there did look like a little bit of fluid but nothing unusual.

We went to the audiologist today and they tested her hearing. The headset that they wanted to use for the first round of the tests was bulky and the tester suggested taking off her glasses since Belle said it was uncomfortable. So I took off her newly fixed glasses, and she proceeded with the test. Well - She did awesome, followed instructions and essentially passed the test with flying colors. Her ears look great, the nerves are great, her hearing is in tact. I can breathe again.

I mentioned to the audiologist about my concern with her failing previous tests with her patch on. She nodded and then asked if I had some time. She took another patient and sent Belle into the waiting area to play and told me to put her patch on her. In about 15 minutes she had me come back in and she administered the screen with her patch on. It was like I was watching things happen with a time delay. She'd send a beep and Belle would sit there, then a few seconds later she would acknowledge the beep by throwing the block into the bucket. Having seen her fly through the same exercise just a few minutes earlier I was shocked. If she had taken the test the first time with her patch on, she would have failed as she did at school and the pediatrician. She told me that this isn't the first time she has seen something like this. She has even seen kids fail hearing tests when they don't have their eyeglasses on.

It just reinforces to me how much all of our systems are connected. When she is patching she really is working hard to see, so much that she is struggling in other areas - like her hearing. It gives me even more respect for just how tough this is and makes me want to hug her over and over and over. It makes me even more motivated to stay on task and patch her diligently in hopes of a faster recovery to her sight in her the weak eye.

I want my baby girl to see and hear the world to the fullest.


  1. I'm so glad her hearing is okay! What a relief. Maybe I wasn't so crazy thinking that Jake is slower to react to colours when he has the patch on....

  2. I ran across this article today, and it made me think of your post - "Ophthalmic disturbances in children with sensorineural hearing loss". It's looking at the reverse - are children with hearing problems more likely to also have vision problems. And it appears that there is a correlation.

    Here's the abstract:, I don't have access to the full text unfortunately.

  3. This is a great post. Our little boy has a congenital hearing loss (mixed - sensorineural and conductive), and he just failed his preschool vision screening. While we don't see the ophthalmologist until Friday, the screen indicates he is farsighted in one eye and nearsighted in the other (with astigmatism) - there are about 4 diopters difference between the two eyes. I'm anxious to get to the Ophtho, so that we can figure out what is going on with his vision.

    The most common syndrome with hearing loss is Usher's Syndrome (which causes progressive blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa). It's a worrisome thing for parents of kids with an undiagnosed cause of hearing loss!