Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Enfant Vision Test: Using TV to spot vision problems:

I continue to be impressed and intrigued by the use of technology to help screen vision problems such as amblyopia in young children. I can't help but wonder/wish that my doctor's offices had used these fancy types of screening and caught my daughter's amblyopia sooner. As it was, she was diagnosed at age 4 through an "old fashioned" vision screening that was conducted at her school. I am thankful that her amblyopia was detected as young as she was and during pre-school so that we were able to start helping correct it right away. With the development and more widespread use of these screening tools, kids like my daughter will get diagnosed and be able to seek help and treatment sooner than later.

What follows is a neat article and a video about the Enfant Pediatric Vision test.

There's a new way to spot vision problems in kids early by using one of their favorite technologies - TV!

New vision test, Enfant, uses TV to test kids’ eye sight

For more info and to view a demo video:

Related Links:

Melody's Amblyopia Journey

With thanks to Sadia for sharing her daughter's Amblyopia journey with us.

Melody, who is now three, was diagnosed with amblyopia when she was six months old.

She looked cross-eyed because her right eye was doing all the work, and her left was just hanging out, being "lazy". The treatment was a simple one, one that many of us on the amblyopia journey know well. For a couple of hours a day, we covered up her dominant eye, forcing her left eye to take on the burden of sight.

Had we not done this, Melody might have never developed full vision in that eye. She didn't actually mind the patches too much, although her twin sister Jessica tried to pull them off her for about a week until she got used to them. I know that some kids have to patch for years, but we got off lucky after just a few months. In fact, the doctor declared Melody amblyopia-free at our third appointment. When we were patching, she would wear a patch for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, during her most active play time, when she was looking around the most. I haven't seen any sign of the amblyopia returning since we quit patching, although I do keep an eye out for it.

I did quite a bit of research to find the right patching solution for an active baby, and settled on Ortopad patches based on the only parental review of patches I could find at the time. (Funnily enough, the other dad's daughter is also named Melody!) The Ortopad patches are adhesive, light-blocking patches that come in a junior size for babies, medium for toddlers, and regular for big kids. They're specifically designed for amblyopia, and even come in fun patterns. Each box comes with a bunch of stickers for older kids to decorate their patches with. Here's Melody rocking a pink camo look.

I'm so glad that our pediatrician gave us the referral to the pediatric optometrist as early as he did. The paranoid Mom in me had Jessica checked out too, but she didn't have any vision or eye problems. Melody sometimes looks a little cross-eyed still, but the doctor assures us that it's normal in young children, because the width of their noses compared to their faces means that when they're looking at things up close, their eyes aren't aligned with each other.

When I found out that Melly would have to wear a patch, I was heartbroken, but it turned out not to be all that big of a deal. In fact, I liked having an extra accessorizing opportunity every day.

Although it seems that our amblyopia journey is over, Melody's adventures with her sister continue at Double the Fun and Twice the Confusion, where this story is cross-posted.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PediaVision: Vision Screening for children with Autism

I got a google alert today for an article about Amblyopia and Autism, always a topic of interest to me because my son has Autism and my daughter has Amblyopia. However, there is actually a significant incidence of Amblyopia among the Autistic population. Since my daughter has gotten diagnosed I have learned that a few of my son's peers also deal with Amblyopia issues as well as Autism Spectrum disorder. Since my son wears glasses and is myopic he already sees an eye doctor who I of course grilled about the possibility that he could also have Amblyopia since there is a genetic component. In my son's case, his doctor is quite confident (and I trust him) that my son does not have Amblyopia. This leads me to the topic of this blog entry which has to do with vision screening of Autistic children. It is enough to test a child's vision but coupled with Autism spectrum disorder - vision screening presents more challenges - communication and sensory issues definitely play a big part in how successful a vision screening goes.

The PediaVision Assessment Solution can be used to quickly and accurately screen children's vision from 3 feet away makes it very autism-friendly!

PediaVision Sheds New Light on Vision Screening for Autistic Children

The only binocular vision screening device that produces highly accurate, immediate results, the PediaVision Assessment Solution (PAS) is effective for screening children of any age, especially pre-verbal children. The software produces written results and a recommendation as to whether or not a subject should be referred to an eye care specialist. Conducted from three feet away, the screening is as simple and non-invasive as taking a picture of the child.

Related Links:
Is there a link between Autism and Amblyopia

Meltdown at the Optical Shop

Yesterday I noticed that my daughter was getting an irritated mark on her nose from the nosepad of her glasses. She told me that it was squeezing her. A part of me wonders if she isn't outgrowing her glasses but I am pretty sure she just needs them adjusted and that the nosepad got a little bent or foggled up from all of the "patch on patch off" activity that is part of dealing with her amblyopia.

So, I planned to go to the optical shop with her today. Since my son's glasses were in desperate need of adjustment too (they had gotten so stretched out from his rough handling) I made the decision to take them both after he got out of Camp. This was my first mistake. In an effort to save on taking 2 trips and dealing with traffic (normally 15-20 minutes but it took me almost 40 minutes each way today), I created a monster.

Here's how it all went down.

My daughter was happy as a clam and wanting to go get her glasses adjusted and her brother was just going along with the flow of things until we pulled into the parking lot. At which point she announced "I am going first, not my brother" and almost shut the car door onto the poor guy. Ok, so she was excited -- I let her know she could go first.

She went and sat down in the stools and I told the girl behind the counter that both kids needed adjusting and that my daughter wanted to go first. The technician came out and went over to my daughter as instructed. Except, instead of cooperating like she usually does - my daughter proceeded to then hide under the counter and say she was afraid. She wouldn't let the guy look at her, let alone fix or touch her glasses. I explained that if she wanted her glasses adjusted she needed to sit up and let him take a look at them, but she wasn't cooperating. Since she was having a moment, he went over to my son who he could see couldn't even keep his glasses on his head without using the retainer strap. He began to adjust my son's glasses.

And then.. My daughter LOST IT completely.

Because "She was supposed to go first".

The tears and blood curdling screams that came out of her were heard throughout the county and I wanted to vanish. I felt like every eye was on me and my child as I tried to explain to her that she had her chance to go first, she hid and that if she could just wait a minute it would be her turn. Nothing I said or did could fix this at this time, so when my son's glasses were done. I apologized and then said that we needed to leave. Screams, Tears, and all. Her glasses never got adjusted and I was afraid at this point she might even break them so I took and put them in her glasses case and tucked them in my purse.

And then we drove home - another 45 minute trip that should have taken 20 but the traffic stunk. She screamed the entire time. This didn't go over well with my son who is on the Autism spectrum and doesn't care for loud noises. He told her to be quiet and asked her nicely at first. When she didn't - then he started to cry too. It was a long ride home.

Once we got home and my daughter laid down across my lap and in the time it has taken for me to type this - she has sobbed herself to sleep.

Tomorrow is another day, and maybe just maybe I'll be brave enough to show my face again at the eyeglass place.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Get help from Stereo Sue - author of Fixing my Gaze

Some people are real gems. Sue Barry, definitely is one of them. Her book is a must read for anyone living with vision issues like Amblyopia or Strabismus. I am inspired by her journey and encourage anyone who hasn't to pick up her book and read it. If you have questions, you can even contact the author directly. She is dedicated to helping others - and for this I applaud and thank her.

What follows is an email that I found in my inbox earlier this week.

Dear MaryTara,

Thanks so much for posting my story and information about my book, Fixing My Gaze, on Amblyopia Kids. Like you,
I am really interested in sharing information about and helping people with vision problems. If any of your readers would like to contact me, my email address is

I would be happy to have you post this email address on your website.

Thanks for a great website,
Sue Barry

Patching Works - 5 month progress report

On Monday, my daughter went to our Ophthalmologist for her 5 month follow up visit. We are very lucky to have a superb eye doctor that both my daughter and I adore. She looks forward to her visits and is actually excited to go there. In fact, she tells me that going to the eye doctor is fun!

Each time she asks me "when will the doctor tell me that he can't tell the which eye is my 'problem-seein' eye?" This is a reference to the Apple Patty Patches book. For a 4 year old, she is quite wise and understands more than I could ever imagine about her eye condition. It pains me when she asks these questions a bit, because I simply don't know the answer. When she asked me - I just responded saying "I don't know, let's go to your appointment and we'll see what happens.".

I know that one of these visits, we'll get there.

Well, we didn't get there this time but that's OK.

Because we did make improvement.

I get nervous when she is reading the eyechart because I can tell she is struggling. She told the doctor and the technician that "the letters are so tiny, they are mouse size". She visibly turned her head to get a better view using just her better eye.

Have I mentioned that I love her doctor?

He didn't give up and just take Belle telling that the letters were too "mouse-sized". He asked her to pretend she was a mouse and see if she could see the letters then.

Guess what?

She did.

Her vision is improving and each visit she is able to complete more of the eyechart than she did the last time.

Patching works!

We go back in 3 months - which will make 8 months of patching. The doctor says that at that point if she continues to improve we will discuss starting to scale back a bit on the patching and re-check in a month to see if there has been any regression.

Belle is doing great! My little minnie mouse is doing it - she is beating Amblyopia!

Friday, August 14, 2009

August is National Children's Vision & Learning Month

August is National Children's Vision & Learning Month

Please visit:

If your preschool or school age child has not had their vision checked, make an appointment.

Troubles at school could be vision related.

My daughter has amblyopia and I would not have known if it hadn't been for a vision screening - I had no idea my 4 year old was not seeing out of 1 eye!

Run, don't walk... to get your kids eyes tested!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Stereo Sue" lecture for teachers - 3 part video series

Sue Barry was cross-eyed from early infancy, and lived for almost 50 years without stereovision--i.e. unable to see in three dimensions. Fascinated as a student by the inner workings of the brain, Sue grew up to be a neurobiology professor. She even used her own vision deficiencies as a classroom example to illustrate the idea that the brain is hardwired at a very young age and cannot be changed. But Sue's faith in the science of the day (a hardwired brain) would eventually crumble. At the age of 48, Susan Barry gained stereo vision with the help of a developmental optometrist who prescribed a program of optometric vision therapy that taught her how to coordinate her eyes.

Lecture for Teachers, 3 Parts

Fixing my Gaze Author - 3D Vision Workshop videos

This is an excerpt from a longer video of Susan Barry, author of Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions, speaking at the National Stereoscopic Association meeting in July, 2009. For more information about this workshop, please visit:

3D Vision Workshop, 2 Parts

Patching works!

Today I am filled with joy and HOPE.

In the past 24 hours I have heard great news from 2 friends about their "amblyopia kids" making gains at eye doctor appointments.

Patching does work!

Belle goes back to her eye doctor on Monday and I am nervous and also excited to hear some GOOD NEWS!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why you should take your child to a behavioral optometrist before school starts

Watch this video to learn

Why you should take your child to a behavioral optometrist before school starts

"World Health News Today" segment on how kids can improve their vision through exercises.

Spotlight on "Stereo Sue" Barry - Fixing My Gaze

Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions

Sue Barry was born cross-eyed, and lived for almost 50 years without stereovision--i.e. unable to see in three dimensions. Fascinated as a student by the inner workings of the brain, Sue grew up to be a neurobiology professor. She even used her own vision deficiencies as a classroom example to illustrate the idea that the brain is hardwired at a very young age and cannot be changed. But Sue's faith in the science of the day (a hardwired brain) would eventually crumble.

At the age of 48, Susan Barry gained stereo vision with the help of a developmental optometrist who prescribed a program of optometric vision therapy that taught her how to coordinate her eyes.

From the front page of the Hartford Courant:
Through Her Vision Work, Neurobiologist Finds Way To Retrain The Adult Brain

Bright Eyes Vision News: Interview with Susan Barry
Interview with Susan Barry, author of "Fixing My Gaze"

Audio Podcast Interview with Susan Barry

Scientific American: From 2-D to 3-D Sight: How One Scientist Learned to See

Print Q&A with Sue from the New Scientist, June 6, 2009

Sue’s Psychology Today Blog, Eyes on the Brain

Los Angeles Times OpEd,0,350826.story

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Patches from Munchkins eye Patches eBay store

There are so many places to buy patches for your kids - including eBay. I've previously reviewed the Peek-a-Boo patches which are sold on eBay which is how I learned about Munchkins Eye Patches.

About Munchkins patches:
  • Childrens Kids Eye Patches
  • Non-Adhesive
  • Felt or Fleece, Fully Lined
  • Reusable and Hand-Washable
  • Eye Patches for Children who have to Patch because of Amblyopia Lazy Eye Strabismus Surgery and wear Glasses.
  • Also, Pirate Style Patches for use without Glasses

The patches are made in a few sizes (L, M, M-S, and small) and directions for measuring are included at the eBay store. I simply sent the measurement of my daughter's eyeglasses and let the owner know which eye it was for.

One thing that appealed to me was that unlike the patches that use a "slit" to accomodate the earpiece of the glasses these have an elastic loop on the outside of the patch. This seems both more comfortable and more occlusive when compared to the other styles. Also the patch has a slightly different shape than most of the others (ie Patch Pals) that is a little less bulky. The sewing on these is really nice. For example -the buttonhole that you slip the nosepiece through is reinforced and not just a cut out slit. You can tell that time and care has gone into designing and then sewing them and I appreciate that!

Munchkins patches have a diverse color selection and can also have designs added. My daughter has a pink tie-dye looking fleece patch with Sleeping beauty on it. This is not a licensed disney product but it is made with licensed disney fabric for the design.

Prices range from 8.99-12.99/per patch with $2 shipping

To purchase visit the Munchkins Eye patch eBay store

Pictures of my princess in her special princess patch from Munchkins. As you can see, there is no cheating and someone is looking forward to our next trip to Disney. This patch is comfortable, fun, and fully occlusive. Be sure to order the correct size for your child's glasses. I believe the one below is a M-Sm size.

Using Electronic Reading Systems for Children with Vision Challenges such as Amblyopia

My daughter has been struggling with reading lately. I know she wants to learn how to read but she is having a hard time with it.

The biggest complaint and struggle is... she tells me that "the letters are too tiny". I believe it is her vision that is holding her back from reading and that makes me so upset to watch.

I have been trying to encourage reading as much as possible by sitting and sharing books. Also, during patch time I like to have her use an electronic reader and play the reading games and it really seems to be helping her with her reading, confidence, and also keeps her busy during patching making patch time "beat the clock".

We have both the LeapFrog® Tag Reading System and the Poingo Reading System

Related Links:
Reading Sytems Review: Poingo vs the LeapFrog Tag

Review: Should I buy a LeapFrog Tag Reading System for my child?