Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Enfant Pediatric VEP Vision Testing System


Enfant Pediatric VEP Vision Testing System
Screening vision in infants and children is important. But, how do you screen a babies vision quickly and accurately with minimal invasion? What about a toddler or preschool child who cannot read, verbalize or cooperate for a traditional exam? And, what about the special needs population (including Autism spectrum) for whom vision exams are extremely complicated and (speaking from experience with my son) can cause sensory overload?

The Enfant Pediatric VEP Vision Testing System
An answer to the growing need for "quick and easy" eye exams for children is the Enfant Pediatric VEP Vision Testing System made by Diopsys. VEP stands for Visual Evoked Potential technology. This is a fancy way of saying they are measuring the brain responses from a child watching Television! How cool is that? Very!

The Enfant VEP system is able to detect several children's vision issues including: Amblyopia (Lazy Eye), Strabismus, as well as severe refractive errors and optic nerve disorders. Amblyopia, if left untreated will lead to blindness and loss of vision if left untreated. As with any medical condition - early detection is key.

A typical VEP exam
The exam is as simple as an examiner placing three electrodes onto the child's head as well as occluding each eye. The electrodes are painless and the exam is completed in a matter of minutes. The electrodes measure the neurological responses between the brain and the eye as the child watches a cartoon video with music play on a screen a few feet away. Printable results are available to the screener immediately upon the test completion. The results will indicate whether the child has passed or failed and include a numerical score.

Where to find the VEP system
Many pediatricians are carrying The Enfant VEP system as well as pediactric ophthalmologists. It is also covered by many insurance providers. With the AAP recommending that children receive vision screening at 6 months of age - state of the art systems like The Enfant VEP will soon become "the norm".

Pediatric Vision Screening

Pediatric Vision Screening

Though many vision issues are genetic in nature - just because both parents have perfect vision does not guarantee that a child will also see 20/20. Early identification of vision issues in children is crucial and should start with vision checks at all infant and well-child visits. Before the age of 1 year old (6 months old is suggested) your child should have a thorough eye exam by a vision professional. There are programs, like the InfantSee program that provide for free vision screening for infants by a qualified Optometrist.

Your child's vision should be screened again around age 3 and before entering school. Vision issues can impact your child's school performance academically, socially, and physically. A child who is struggling to see may have problems with reading and writing or act disinterested. A child may seem uncoordinated, klutzy, or appear lazy - when the reality is they need corrective lenses. Some children will need glasses for seatwork and reading (they are farsighted) and others for reading the board or seeing distance (they are nearsighted or myopic). Many children also have a 'hidden' vision issue like Amblyopia, a neurological condition where one eye is doing the work for two. These are just a few of the vision issues that a visit to a trained vision professional, either an Optometrist or Pediatric Ophthalmologist will be able to diagnose. Some signs that your child may be having trouble seeing without you knowing it could be frequent headaches, dizziness, frequent falling and/or tripping - to name a few. Your child may not be able to articulate or let you know that there is a problem with their vision because they do not realize or know that there is any problem. Parents can even find Free Vision assessment tools online to identify areas of concern.

It a misconceived notion that in order to test a child's vision they must be able to read a traditional eye chart with letters on it (the one with the big E at the top). Your child absolutely does not need to be able to read to go to the eye doctor for a full vision screening. If your child isn't yet reading letters they will use of specially developed assessment tools including picture cards and charts. The most popular is the Allen Chart which includes icons of a birthday cake, a bird, a telephone, a hand, and a horse.

For children who are not yet talking nor able to cooperate with a traditional exam, seek out a practice that is employing the latest in vision screening technologies - i.e.: the Enfant Pediatric Vision testing system or the PediaVision Assessment Solution. Both of these technologies are used in vision screening for kids as young as 6 months old and do not rely on a verbal response from the child to accurately measure their visual acuity.

article originally published at Bella Online Vision Issues

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Parent trying to prevent Amblyopia

I was recently invited to post a blog through my Facebook connection with this site, I am not a big blogger but thought given this opportunity I might say something that will help another parent that just found out that their baby, or toddler has Amblyopia. I will start this blog by telling a little background on why I invest time in reading this site.

I am a mother of two, my second born (a son Ben) 15 months, was at a regular 6 week Pediatrician checkup, when the pediatrician informed me that my brand new baby boys eyes did not reflect light properly and that he had never seen anything like it in his career, he immediately referred me to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. Needless to say I was one scared mom, he couldn't even tell me if my son was blind, I went 2 weeks before he had his first appt. and reminded myself during this time that I had a beautiful baby boy and whatever this was we would get through it with the strength of God.

His first appt. 8 weeks into his little life I was informed that my son had bi-lateral cataracts, the left eye is the worse with a 2.5mm cataract. The other cataract is so small it has been dismissed in future appts.
So the result of that appt. was patching my little man daily for an hour. This process did not go well normally he would scream himself to sleep resulting in no time to make his weak eye work, very frustrating for a new mom who is trying to prevent Amblyopia.

His next appt. 6 weeks later resulted in a dilating drop that I had to put in the bad eye to allow more light to transfer to that brain preventing the brain from shutting off that eye, this method worked much better then the patching in the beginning and patching was dropped.

The next appt. was a great report that his eye looked great and that we could very well caught this early enough that we could prevent a severe case of Amblyopia. This was great news! I was told in this appt. that the drops could be stopped ....if I only knew what the next appt. would bring.

So here comes another appt. the doctor looked at my sons eye and immediately gave me an odd look, so within 3 months my sons eye went from doing great lets limit the things we are doing to....OMG we need to patch immediately, once a day for 1 hour. Drops everyday in the bad eye. Your next appt. will be a fitting for a pair of glasses. Needless to say I felt like I failed my son, I wish I would have just continued the drops and patching everyday despite what the doctor said. What the doctor didn't know is that I was about to change specialist so that I didn't have a 4 1/2 hour trip and hotel reservation every time my son needed to see the specialist. Although I feel we dropped his preventatives way to soon, this was still a good doctor and I was sad to have to leave. But I knew being closer to home would be a good call!

So let the patching and drops begin....patching like in the beginning was proving to be painful for him and I both. Then one morning before taking him out of his crib I had an aha moment....I took out the first patch and placed it on my right eye (same eye used for his patching) and then grabbed his favorite stuffed doggy animal in his crib and put a patch on his eye. I pulled out a patch for my son and put it on with no problem and ever since then we have had pain free patching!!

So that brings us to today, I was referred by my prior physician the day I told him I needed to be closer to home, and today I was honored to go to the Kellogg eye center in Michigan, the best decision I have made. The whole facility was welcoming, the receptionist walked us all the way to the office door for our appt., my son was given the best care thus far for his eyes, the drop will be administered twice a week and patching will increase to 2 hours daily. His next visit is in 2 months and this appt. will be all about the determination of his prescription and choosing his first pair of glasses. When we left the facility and arrived at my vehicle I did determine that my little man had lost his blanket, since it was such a long appt. I told my mom to stay with my son in the vehicle so that he could get a drink and snack as I returned to the building to find his blanket, (ahh as he calls it) I then turned to find a hospital volunteer on a bicycle with my sons ahhh.....this hospital cares about its little patients!!!!

I will be strong for my little man(I will not treat him any different), as I told my 4 yr. old daughter when she asked for an explanation the other day to why her brother would wear glasses and she would not, I told her that God gave you eyes like your daddies so you and daddy do not have to wear glasses to see, and God gave Ben eyes like mommy so we have to wear glasses to see. I was happy when she told me that made since to her!!

I hope this blog finds all the mommies preventing or caring for children with Amblyopia well. I am thankful that I was able to tell my story and hope that it brings inspiration and support to other parents.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keeping Kids Eyeglasses On - Eyeglass Retainers


Keeping Kids Eyeglasses On - Eyeglass Retainers

My son has autism and he loses and misplaces his glasses frequently. He also is a 9 year old boy who is very active. In the first year he had glasses we had to replace them more times than I could count because they were either lost or broken. While wearing a glasses strap or retainer isn't exactly fashionable, I knew that it was the practical and for him - a necessity. We tried many different styles of straps but many were not comfortable. Some styles were quite large and not designed with a child in mind. Most were just plain ugly. We tried straps that were clear (inconSPECuous) and also straps that were made to be waterproof or floatable. I found that some straps broke quickly and others got funky quickly from being on the back of a sweaty boy's head.

Since my daughter has Amblyopia she has to wear an eye patch daily. Our favorite eye patch is made by Framehuggers, Camille Workman. Camille has come up with an innovative headstrap designed for children's glasses (but it certainly could be used for adults also) to hold their glasses on their faces where they belong. The strap is made with soft non-fraying fleece and is comfortably. It is adjustable and velcros around the back of the head. My son wears his strap low across the back of his head, near the hairline. As I mentioned, my son has Autism - he has a lot of sensory issues and can only wear soft fabrics without tags or anything that might be irritating him. Even the seams in socks can bother him, so it is important that a glasses strap not bother him or he will remove the glasses promptly (and lose them).

The Headhuggers strap can be made in a color of your choice, ours is a blue-grey camo pattern that looks age appropriate, "cool" and definitely hip. If you are having a hard time keeping your child's glasses on their head where they belong, or struggling with glasses that slide down your child's face - Headhuggers to the rescue.

For more info visit the Framehuggers website
The dish on eyeglass retainers
Introducing Headhuggers made by Framehuggers

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When your child won't wear their glasses

When your child won't wear their glasses

When your young child needs glasses, it is often quite an adventure. I remember when I got glasses, I was in 3rd grade and I loved them immediately. Yet, both my children did not have the same "love" for their glasses at first. My daughter was insistent that "princesses didn't wear glasses" and my son was just hell on wheels and refused to keep them on his head where they belonged. (See my posts on eyeglass retainers!)
Friends gave me lots of tips for getting them to wear their glasses, yet some of the best advice that I received upfront was to invest in some cheap spares and expect that they would get lost, broken, or misplaced (either purposefully or not) and to be prepared. I swore I was prepared for anything, but now I look back and laugh!

It seems that the trend of kids getting glasses and not wanting to wear them is really quite common. The nice thing is that there are some really well written and beautifully illustrated children's books on this topic that may be helpful to your children as they were to mine.

Books for little Girls:
Princess Peepers written by Pam Calvert is a modern day fairytale of a Princess who wears glasses. Princess Peepers has a set of glasses for every occasion and loves her glasses. Until, one day she is ridiculed by other princesses and decides not to wear them. What results is a comedy of errors as Peepers tries to navigate the castle without glasses and cannot see. She mistakes a dog for the queen and a horse for another princess. It wouldn't be a fairytale without a happy ending and Peepers meets a Prince who also wears glasses. This fun book is illustrated by Tuesday Morning and is a must have for little princesses who wear glasses. Be sure to visit the author's website and submit pictures of your very own Princess Peepers.


Luna and the Big Blur by Shirley Day tells the story of a young girl who not only doesn't like wearing her glasses, she doesn't like her name either (because it rhymes with Tuna). Luna has a dream that she can see clearly and decides to do without her glasses which of course results in her bumping into things and making mistakes. This children's storybook tells the story of how Luna comes to accept her glasses and relish in her unique name when she learns its true meaning.

Books for little Boys:
Randy Kazandy, Where are your glasses? by Rhonda Fischer is based on a real life Randy Kazandy who did not like to wear his glasses. So much so that Randy goes to great lengths to hide, break and otherwise get rid of them. His mother is super-prepared with lots of spares to keep glasses on little Randy's face where they belong. This book is written in rhyme and vibrantly illustrated (by Kim Sponaugle). Seek and find hidden and not so hidden eyeglasses in every illustration making this a fun book to read again and again. Visit the Randy Kazandy Website for fun kids activities based on the book. 

Summary of Amblyopia Treatments & Study Findings

Dr. Nate of Bright Eyes Family Vision Care recently published a summary of findings on different treatments for amblyopia on his blog. The article summarizes findings from various studies with reference links.

This is a Must Read article that addresses topics such as:

  • Which is "better" or more effective - atropine vs patching?
  • patching frequency/duration - full time, part time - does it matter?
  • Age - is there a magic age that Amblyopia must be corrected by?

The Science Behind Amblyopia Treatment

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

COVD August Webinar with Dr. Susan Barry now online

If you missed the COVD webinar with Dr. Sue Barry "School Crossings: ...A Neurobiologist's View of How Our System Fails Children With Vision Problems

2010 August Webinar - College of Optometrists in Vision Development

Click here to see it online:


related link:
Thoughts from the COVD Webinar with Dr. Sue Barry

New Halloween & Pirate Eye Patch Kits - Krafty Eye Patch 15% off Coupon Code

Sharing another eye patch coupon code in my inbox today for Krafty Eye Patches.

They now have new Pirate and Halloween kits with glow in the dark stickers, spiders, and pumpkins.

Use code: PIRATE15

15% off ALL patches, expires 9/30/2010


If you haven't tried Krafty Eye Patches - check out our review of these fun and non-toxic patches "craft kits".

Friday, September 10, 2010

Video Games Good for Kids Vision

Video Games Good for Kids Vision

AmblyopiaKids plays Nintendo DS

Kids with Amblyopia can benefit from playing handheld video games such as the Nintendo DS daily. In late June 2010, 6 year old Ben Michaels of the UK, shared his story worldwide. The boy played Mario Kart every day with his brother and reported a 250% improvement in his vision after just a week.

While Ben's results and dramatic improvement may be out of this world, the concept of playing video games for Vision Therapy is not a new one for parents of children with Amblyopia. When my daughter was diagnosed with Amblyopia, one of the most recommended activities by other parents was "get her a Nintendo DS". We have integrated video game playing into her daily occlusion therapy routine with good results. [ABC News article interview]

Why choose the Nintendo DS?
While there are other portable and handheld gaming systems (like the PSP and even the Leapster for younger kids), the DS seems to be the most popular choice. Reasons to choose the DS would include portability, durability, lots of game selection, and affordability (of the games, accessories and console). Places like Gamestop offer used games and the ability for kids and parents to do trade-ins. With my 5 year old daughter, the DS is just the right size for use while patching. Gameplay requires kids to focus on the moving graphics on the 4 inch screen. Playing the DS also helps hand and eye coordination through manipulation of a small stylus as well as navigation and toggle buttons. For those who require a slightly larger portable gaming system - Nintendo offers the DSi XL which has a larger screen.

This article was orginally published (by me) at Bella Online Vision Issues

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Special Back to School Coupon Code for Ortopad Patches

I received this in my inbox tonight and it is too good of a deal not to share with Amblyopia Kids readers & fans!

When you buy a box of the new Ortopad Elite patches, you can get 10% off of a box of plain white or beige "regular" Ortopad patches.

Visit us at http://www.ortopadusa.com/ to place your order today!

Offer expires 09/30/10.

Use Promotion Code RE0810 when placing your order

My guess is that they are clearing out stock of the old style patches in order to make room for the newly re-designed patches with the nose slits like the Elites have. If you've not yet tried the elite style patch -you definitely need to check them out!

Also found this great sale "while supplies last" on Ortopad's website. Good if you have a child under age 4 since it is only for the smaller size patches.

So we're saying "goodbye" to our Fun Pack 1, which means a GOOD BUY for you!

Ortopad Fun Pack 1 is being discontinued and will be permanently replaced with Ortopad Fun Pack 2. This special offer is only while supplies last. Available sizes are Junior and Medium Size only; Regular size is sold out.

Mention Promo Code FUNPACK1 when placing your order, and get each box of Fun Pack 1 for only $14.95.

Haven't tried Ortopad or Ortopad Elite eye patches? Read the review here at Amblyopiakids.com

Ortopad & Ortopad Elite Eye Patch Review

Since we have been giving adhesive patches another try, I thought I would share our experience with the Ortopad patches. In the past, we've experienced a lot of problems with adhesive patches largely from sensitivity issues as well as performance. Some of the brands actually pulled my daughters top layer of skin off and caused severe irritation. Other adhesives didn't stick at all and came loose too easily from sweat and/or tears. When we first tried Ortopad we did have problems with them staying on my daughter's face. Because they peeled off easily or came loose from sweat and tears, we were going through more than one of them in a patching session which wasn't acceptable to me.

However, over the past year or so the Ortopad patches appear to have undergone some changes in the product and added to their line of eye patches. At the urging of several Amblyopia Kids facebook fans, I tried Ortopad again. I especially liked that all of the patches are hypoallergenic, use a latex free adhesive, and come individually sealed.

The regular Ortopad patches come in patterns (boys, girls, and gender neutral "fun packs) as well as white or beige. These patches are great for kids to decorate or if you want something discrete and not real attention-grabbing. Over the summer I sent out patches for friends to decorate (pictures coming soon) and it was the white Ortopads that we used.

They also have a new patch called Ortopad Elite, which has "slits" near the nose part of the patch allowing it to fit well under glasses and making it more breathable. Both their regular patches and the Elite patches come in "girls" or "boys" patterns but the girls elite pack designs have glitter in them. The patches come in 3 sizes - junior, medium, and regular - the regular are for ages 4 and up so that is the size that we use. They are sold in packs of 50 at http://www.ortopadusa.com/ with the regular patches at $17 a box and elite at $18 a box. The elite are worth the extra $1!
My daughter likes some of the patterns and colors in the regular line "girl" box better but I have definitely found that the elite to be preferable in terms of performance (especially over the hot summer). The nose slits allow her glasses to sit where they need to sit and not slide down, they are breathable, and the larger coverage is a plus! So, I was thinking... if only they would just offer the colors from the "regular" patches in the "elite" shape, we'd be really happy!
Well - sure enough...When I went onto Ortopad's site after receiving a coupon code I found this exciting announcement:
COMING SOON! Due to an overwhelming response to the new shape on our Ortopad® Elite patches, all Ortopad® patches will have a new shape, featuring the slits in the nose area to allow for a better fit! Stay tuned...the website will be updated as the new shape is available.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And she's off to kindergarten!

Belle started Kindergarten today. She's in the class of 2023!
Yesterday we had her orientation and a trial run on the bus, where I got to ride along with her. She was very unsure about the bus but also quite excited to go meet her new teacher and make friends.

After talking to friends, her doctor, the teacher, principal and comments received both here on the blog and on the facebook page - I decided to start the year with her not patching at school. We'll get in her hours after school when she gets home and go from there.  At some point we may start patching at school and when we get to that point we'll come up with a plan. But first, she needs to adjust to all the changes that come with going to Kindergarten.

Good luck to all the kids going back to school. What have you/your schools done to assist your child with amblyopia?  If you patch at school - I'd love to hear how its going for you!