Saturday, December 3, 2011

Free Patching Incentive Chart when you order from Kay Fun Patches

Kay Fun Patch has just launched a new range of fabric Pirate skull and crossbones patches in Neon, Sparkle and Glow in the Dark .

Mention AmblyopiaKids in the comments box when you order and get a pack of patching charts FREE in December 2011

If you haven't tried Kay Fun Patches - check out our review 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday Special on Krafty Eye Patches

Visit for all kinds of great eye patches & kits get 10% off now coupon code: Monday15 (expires midnight Monday November 28th)

Coupon good for all products!!

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Abby's journey with Amblyopia

Thank you Sheelagh for sharing your daughter's Amblyopia journey.

My daughter Abby was diagnosed at the age of 4 1/2 with strabismus and amblyopia. Her right eye was seeing 20/30 and her left eye 20/200 uncorrected. The way we found out was a train wreck. At Abby's four year old well check she failed the vision screening with her left eye only. The nurse said it was behavioral and that not to worry about it. I did worry! I followed up with my family eye doctor shortly afterwards. He could not even finish testing her, because in his words "she was legally blind in her left eye". How did we as parents miss this? She played soccer, but not very well. She was learning her sight words, but not reading. She took ballet and seemed to do fine. She did squint her left eye alot and turn her head. There were frequent headaches, but not complaints of not being able to see. How did I miss this?

I had so many questions and he had so little information for me. I left the office not knowing what to do next or who to see. Hindsight is 20/20. The optometrist recommended a developmental optometrist who was local. Not knowing to much, I followed up quickly with her and learned alot during our first appointment. Abby was fitted with glasses and we began patching for 2 hours a day. Initially it was incredibly hard on all of us. The developmental optometrist set us up for at home vision therapy. We met with a vision therapist once a month for a follow-up and more at home exercises. This continued on for 6 months. After patching for 6 months Abby's vision had become better. She was now 20/20 in her right eye and 20/80 in her amblyoptic eye.

At this point, we decided to do weekly in office vision therapy and fitted Abby for a contact lens. Abby wore the contact lens during the week and her glasses on the weekends. We also used an occluder contact lens in her "good" eye instead of using a patch. This worked well for a while. After 6 months of in office vision therapy once a week with daily vision therapy at home Abby's eyes had improved. She then had achieved 20/20 in her right eye and 20/40 in her left eye. Abby graduated from vision therapy at this point. It was the summer before kindergarten. We still had to wear a contact lens in her left eye, but no occlusion therapy was ordered. We had a great summer. Part of me wondered how her eye's were doing. Abby started kindergarten and she did fabulous. During winter break of kindergarten we went in for a progress check. Abby's eyes had changed. Now her left eye was seeing 20/50! We were not told to patch at this point. We were to come back in another 6 months for our next progress check.

One year post vision therapy and patching we returned for our progress check. It was not good! Abby's vision was still 20/20 in her right eye, but her left eye had decreased to 20/80 and there were still signs of amblyopia. I was extremely upset. Very unsure of how all this happened. Especially since vision therapy is expensive and was not covered by our insurance. The developmental optometrist recommended another 6 months of in office weekly vision therapy. Not sure what to do next, I paid for the 24 sessions and started questioning myself. Somehow in this process, we were never encouraged to see an Ophthalmologist. I owed it to Abby to leave no stone unturned. I felt somehow that this was my fault.
We waited for 4 months to see a pediatric Ophthalmologist. I was hoping that she would give us better news. I was mistaken. It was one of the worst days yet. The Dr. told me that since Abby was almost 7 years old, that her visual system is set. Basically, I should have come to her sooner and that none of the money or time spent on vision therapy was worth it. I felt like the world's worst mom. She recommended patching for 2-4 hours a day for the first 6 weeks. I left the office feeling horrible. I went home, I called the developmental optometrist who basically said the 2 fields are like oil and water. Of course, I had that sinking feeling that I needed to follow the Ophthalmologists' recommendations just to see. After all, I had tried it one way and it didn't stick!
At our 6 week check up Abby's vision did change a little. Her left eye was now 20/60. The doctor now has us patching for 4-6 hours a day. Abby is now 7 and such a trooper! She patches for 2-3 hours a day at school. Her teacher has set aside a safe in the classroom time for her to patch and do work. Her classmates are wonderful about this. I think all first graders are such wonderful little people! The patch comes off right before lunch and then we patch again when she get's home for 3 hours. **we use the Ortopad Elite adhesive patches and love them** We don't go back for our 8 week follow-up until mid-January of 2012. I am praying, crossing my fingers and toes that this works. If her acuity has not changed then the Ophthalmologist wants to taper the patching and eventually stop all together.

On the flip side, we have stopped the vision therapy for now. We still have 12 weeks that are left of our paid sessions. We had a meeting with the vision therapist last week and Abby has such great stereo now with her vision. She can see in 3D and her eye turn is very controlled. Her left eye is still turning off at times and this is what we are addressing. I am sitting on the fence. We have achieved alot with vision therapy and minimal patching alone. It has not made the ambloyopia go away, but it did help Abby out alot. I hope that by patching for 4-6 hours a day and not doing any vision therapy, that we do not undo any of the good that has come of vision therapy.

I do hope that her acuity improves. Achieving 20/40 or better in her left eye is ideal. Keeping it there and not backsliding again is a must! Having a child with any disorder is very challenging. As a parent you want what is best for your child. Having a child with amblyopia and strabismus has been an adventure. There is tons of research out there and lots of opinions and case studies, but not very many Ophthalmologists' who agree with vision therapy. It would make it easier if both medical practices were on the same page. I whole heartedly think that vision therapy did help Abby. She has great eye teaming now and wonderful stereo vision. I only hope that we can improve her vision and decrease her acuity without disrupting what she has achieved.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The teacher says... toewalking (and more)

Parent teacher conference time always stresses me out.  Last year this time (kindergarten, mind you), I was informed that my visually challenged daughter was ... "A Slow Cutter".  This particular teacher didn't seem to buy into all of Belle's eye issues which made for a challenging year.  Fast forward and my daughter has made so much progress. At this time, we are "off the patch".. though we go back to the eye doctor the week after Thanksgiving, which is approaching rather rapidly - next week, in fact... Well,  unlike last years teacher,  her current teacher seems to be very in tune with Belle. After going over her report card (she did great!) and talking about how she has blossomed into a pretty darn good reader.. we went on to talk about a few areas of concern.

Belle has a hard time with the lined paper intended to teach children handwriting. The center (dotted) line really tends to throw her off. Not only does it take her a long time to write using this paper... it is exacerbating her already not so good time management skills and is a major source of frustration. What is surprising is if you give her paper that is smaller rule without that center line, her writing improves drastically both in legibility and the time it takes for her to write the word.   

In the beginning Belle was reading books right to left instead of left to right.  She also at times skips words or lines when there is a block of text.   This didn't totally surprise me and with accommodations she is addressing it. It helps if she uses  her finger, cards, and filters to keep her place.

Belle is tipping her head and positioning her body a lot in class in such a way that she appears to be really favoring her right (good eye).  This makes me very nervous that at our next eye doctor visit (Only a week away). I'll remain hopeful.

But the one that caught me by surprise was when she shared that she has observed my daughter Toe Walking, on a rather frequent basis.  Her older brother having Autism, it would be expected that she may mimic some of his behaviors. Toe Walking often goes hand in hand with Autism so her teacher thought it could be something she picked up from big bro.  I wish it could be that simple. But, her brother doesn't toe walk and never has.  I've spent the afternoon racking my brain about the toe walking.  I can't say I have ever noticed my daughter doing this. Not that she doesn't, but that I've not ever noticed.   This is something that we will discuss with an Occupational Therapist and some testing/eval, at the eye dr. next week, and with her pediatrician.  I want to get some answers.

And so I'm left wondering -

  • Is this related to her eyes? 
  • Is this something she picked up from another child?
  • Is she trying to be taller? 
  • Is this sports/muscle related? (she skates & dances)
  • Or is it something else?
Related Links:

Toe Walking and Vision: Unlikely Travelling Companions That We Need To See To Believe!

Co-Morbid Visual Problems Autism & Amblyopia
How Vision Therapy is Saving Stella's Toes & then Some
Autism, Strabismus & Amblyopia
Its not my eyes, its my brain

Sports and Vision - Brick Stars Hockey

I've written a few times about my daughter who plays on a special needs hockey team. Three years later Belle still loves to skate and play hockey. For a child with visual and perceptual issues, the fact that she is able to skate with ease (and quite fast now!) and play a physical sport like hockey never ceases to amaze me. I could watch her play, forever.

The program that she participates in is called the Brick Stars, and was recently highlighted in Asbury Park Press newspaper. I share this here so others could take from the example of my daughter and the many other children in this program who have made huge gains both on and off of the ice. I truly feel that playing hockey has in many ways given me my daughter back. Not only been the ultimate in vision therapy for her but it has boosted her self esteem, broke her out of clingy/shy behavior, motivated her, and gotten her active and physically fit.

In the beginning she couldn't skate at all. In early games she go on the ice assisted and take "set up" goals. Now she plays without skating help and is in on the action. She's scoring goals left and right and skating fast, maneuvering around kids who are 3 times her size (or more). She is not letting her "disability" and vision challenges stop her.

Last season they had her using a special high contrast vision puck (pictured) which was a really effective training tool. Belle uses the "junior" puck, which is the one shown on the top of the photo - with the largest 'dot' in the center.


Why use the Hockey Vision Pucks:

Hockey is the ultimate visual sport! Nearly all the skills that are important for Sport Vision, in general, apply to Hockey. The speed at which the puck travels, the quick transition found in the game from offense to defense, and the speed of recognition needed to make game decisions all come down to your Hockey Vision ability! When training with a smaller black surface area, your eyes and hands will become accustomed to playing with a smaller puck surface area. Therefore, when switching back to playing with a normal puck, the puck is easier to see and handle on your stick with your "split-vision" and the player becomes more confident in his/her ability to handle, see, and react with the puck.

To play hockey at a high level you need to be able to combine:

  • Focusing
  • Vision and Balance
  • Eye-Hand Coordination
  • Tracking, and
  • Eye movements

We also recently purchased Belle some new sports goggles. The photo at the top of this blog entry shows her wearing them.  The old ones that she had (an older style of the Rec Specs) weren't fitting well under her helmet and kept fogging up.  So, she had been wearing a pair of her day to day glasses that had polycarbonate lenses (as all her glasses do) and fit well under her helmet (which has a facecage).  Given how often she was skating, I knew we needed to get her new sports goggles.  We went with RecSpecs Maxx-20 (MX-20) model.  She loves them and they stay on her head well (they have a strap) while still fitting comfortably under her helmet.  I actually took the helmet with me to the store when we bought them.  Surprisingly, the cheapest place I found was Wal-Mart and I had a great experience dealing with the optical shop there. Her goggles took about a week to be made but the savings was worth the wait - they cost under $100 which at several of the places I'd shopped around the frames alone cost that.  

But, back to where I started... Sharing about this fabulous program for special needs children that has changed my daughter's life.

And that’s just what their time spent on Sunday mornings at the Ocean Ice Palace is for every parent of a special needs hockey player in the Stars program — pure joy.
It certainly has been for MaryTara Wurmser, whose daughter, 6-year-old Isabelle, has been with the Stars since its beginning in 2009 and currently is the only girl in the program.
Isabelle has a neurological disorder that affects her eyesight, making focusing on anything difficult, particularly moving objects. She used to wear eye patches to help try to correct her vision, but hasn’t worn a patch since March, and MaryTara says it has everything to do with Isabelle playing hockey.
“She still has some issues with the puck going left to right, but she’s doing really well,” Wurmser said. “She used to be a little shy and introverted. But this program has done wonders for her. It’s given me my daughter back.”

4 part series of articles & video linked below:

Brick Stars program brings hockey to the special needs community

Players enjoy social interaction within Brick Stars program

Parents of Brick Stars players sing program's praises

Volunteers make the difference in Brick Stars program

Related Link:

Overcoming vision challenges

Thanksgiving Coupon Code for Krafty Eye Patches

Here's a new coupon code - just in time for Thanskgiving!

Visit for all kinds of great eye patches & kits get 10% off now coupon code: Turkey10 (expires Nov 30)

Coupon good for all products!!

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Families Journey with Amblyopia

The following is a families journey with Amblyopia - shared by a reader, Nicole. Thank you Nicole for sharing!

I wanted to share my families journey with Amblyopia. My name is Nicole and I am the mother to two beautiful children, I am 27 and have had Amblyopia my entire life. I can remember my parents forcing me to wear my tan colored patch for hours at a time. Unfortunately, there were not too many surgery options available then and I had to learn to cope with my condition, due to this I know have very limited vision in my left eye and my brain compensates with primary vision from the right eye. I also have horrible depth perception.

Fast forward through my life, where I struggled through school being teased for having crossed eyes, and into my journey as a mother. When Mary was about 18 months I finally accepted that she too had Amblyopia, I was in complete denial at first hoping that she wouldn't have to go through what I had. After a bit of a search we found a doctor who specialized in children with Amblyopia. We made our first 2 hour drive for the visit and I was a nervous wreck, what would happen, how can they test her, she is too small, the thoughts just moved so fast in my head. Within minutes of meeting and speaking with Dr. Miller, I was at ease completely, he explained the advances in treatment in detail and made me comfortable not only for my daughter but myself. We ended up getting glasses and a 2hr a day patching regimen. Let me just say if you have never experienced teaching an 18 month old to wear glasses you are missing out on an adventure (sarcasm). We fought day and night for Mary to wear her lenses and struggled even more for her to patch. We tried everything and every type of patch, until I read about Ortho patches on the Amblyopia site, we ordered a box of 'girly' patches and the princess poster to put them on. Mary was so excited to get them and began to wear her patch without much fuss.

Our appointments with Dr. Miller were now more frequent and we were up to our 5th pair of glasses when he noticed that my son had Amblyopia too, my heart sank once again, I felt so responsible for them even having Amblyopia. By the time we left that day we had another new prescription for glasses and an additional patching regimen for Charlie who was about 18 months at the time. Great time to start the hide and seek game with glasses all over again. Surprisingly he was very different from Mary he wore his glasses so well and made sure to bring them to me anytime he took them off.

We continued our bi-monthly check ups when Dr. Miller dropped the "S" word regarding Mary's treatment. My heart sank thinking of putting my 3 year old through eye surgery, I was a nervous wreck all over again. I can't tell you the exact procedure she had done but she needed two different muscles taken care of. We did our pre-op appointment where Dr. Miller clearly laid out what he would do and how it would be done. He was very worried about how I was handling it, I reassured him it was my own fears more than worrying about him doing a great job. The day of surgery went smoothly, Mary had been fully sedated and was quite groggy and grumpy when waking up and the sight of bloody tears made me cry for her, but she was not in pain and other than a little redness and the tears you couldn't tell she even had surgery. At her 2 month follow up Dr. Miller was very happy with her progress and said her vision was already improving.

Then it was Charlies turn to sit in the chair for his exam. After tests and measuring, I knew what would come next, Charlie is now scheduled for surgery on November11th. We continue to patch each of them 2 hours a day. I try to make it as much a game as possible especially with Charlie being under 2 still. I hope that sharing our journey will help others to see that treatment can be successful and even though you are ready to pull your hair out at times, its completely worth your children having better vision. I know I wish still that I did.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween Coupon Code for Krafty Eye Patches

Here's a new coupon code - just in time for Halloween!

Visit for all kinds of great eye patch kits get 10% off now coupon code: Pirate10 (expires Oct 31)

Fun Halloween kits are here for a limited time.
Coupon good for all products!!

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

Progress Progress, every day

It has been a while since I've updated about my daughter's Amblyopia progress.   Since getting her new glasses, we were keeping our fingers and toes (but not our eyes) crossed and hoping for continued progress.  It was, as always, my fear that there would be regression and we would need to resume patching. 

But, at our 6 week re-check - Belle continued on the improved path.  The new stronger prescription is working and she "aced" the eye-chart.  This time around, she asked for her father to take her to her appointment and she was so happy he was there to hear the good news that she could remain patch-free.  We go back in December.  This will have been the longest stretch of time for her without the patch since she was diagnosed around her 4th birthday.  I am hoping that our "journey" may be coming to a close soon, though I'm told this is something that we'll need to watch and keep tabs on.  Belle turns 7 in February.   A lot of 'older' medical beliefs stated that if not corrected by that point, it would/could be a permanent loss. That is daunting, and I am glad that I continued to research and learn that children and adults well beyond the age of 7 can make progress

Belle started first grade in September.  After a summer of going to the library several times a week and reading, reading, and more reading - I have watched her become a little girl who loves to read and reads well.  It is hard to believe she is the same child who struggled her entire kindergarten year with reading and writing.  To hear her read a book independently... ah, I love it.

Every day I am thankful for her continued progress.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Visions of Hope Free Webinar - Back to school Advice from Jillian's Story

Does “Back to School” Mean: Back to Homework Battles and struggles with reading?

You are invited to a very special web interview on Thursday, Aug 25th at 9 pm EDT. Jillian & Robin Benoit, authors of Jillian’s Story: How Vision Therapy Changed My Daughter’s Life, will be sharing their story, how Jillian struggled, the solution that worked for them and offering help to families all over the globe. 

Please RSVP, “seating” is limited, go to & enter the meeting ID number which is 917-050-066, your email address, etc. Just follow the instructions from there.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ortopad Patching Essentials Kits & Reward Posters

Ortopad is now selling 'eye patch kits' that include a box of patches, a coloring & activity book, and a patching reward poster. There are 7 different kits to choose from including "girls" and a "boys" version as well as more gender neutral ones. Pictured is the girl's elite kit.

We haven't used this coloring/activity book but last summer I purchased the Princess poster shown here and used it to "collect" her patches after a day of use. My daughter has kept the poster on display - sort of like a badge of courage.

The patches on my daughter's poster (shown below) are both Ortopad & Ortopad Elite and Krafty Eye Patches.

Visit to order

Offer expires 09/30/11.

Prices range from $18.85 - $22.00 per kit, depending on patch ordered.

Shipping via UPS Ground for $7.50 per shipment.

A new look - new glasses!

Since Belle's prescription had to be increased, she got 2 new pair of glasses. I like her choices, although they weren't my first choice out of all the frames (dozens...) that she tried on. But, they were her choice and since she is wearing them she has to be happy with them! I give her my input but largely leave the selection up to her.

From our local optical shop, she picked out a pair of sophisticated looking purple frames from Seventeen brand. Because a lot of people compliment my daughter on her glasses or contact me asking what her make/model of frames is, I'll list it here. They are Seventeen 5327 in Lavender.
This is a stylish metal frame that is feminine and not real chunky/heavy. The eye width is a 47 which is a step up from her old frames (they were 45s). The sizing is: 47/18/135

These are very stunning frames! She wears them well.

Her 2nd pair of new glasses we got with the Transition lenses which are very convenient because of not needing another pair of prescription sunglasses. Because of the cost of transitions, I prefer to order them online and then take them into our local shop for a fitting. I purchased these from Zenni Optical as I have used in the past. The key to ordering glasses online is to know your measurements and have both the prescription on hand as well as your pupil distance. These are Zenni style # 485117. The sizing is 46/18/132

This is a 'heavier' looking frame that is still quite lightweight (plastic). They have cute beachy designs on the sides and the all important spring hinges.

Very FUNky and trendy!

New Krafty Eye Patches in Fabric (for glasses)

Going through my emails this rainy Monday, and found that one of our favorite adhesive patches (Krafty Eye Patches) is now offering colorful cloth patches (for use with glasses) that can be decorated.

We've not tried them but from the photo they look to be similar to the patches from Patch Pals

Krafty Eye Patches fabric patches are $7.50/each of a discount is offered when purchasing 4 or more. They come in Sapphire Blue, Emerald Green, Bubble Gum Pink, and Purple Grape.

Visit for all kinds of great kits get 10% off now coupon code: Summer10

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

Monday, August 1, 2011

August is Children's Vision & Learning Month

August is Children's Vision & Learning Month

Since 1995, August has been declared National Children's Vision and Learning Month. From the COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development): "The goal of this national observance is to help educate parents and educators about the critical link between vision and learning". This month coincides with Back to School as summer vacation draws to a close and children across the nation return to school or enter school for the first time. It is crucial that all children have vision screening prior to entering school and routine screening (annual) takes place.

Important Awareness Info for this month (and always):

-Vision problems can interfere with learning. It is reported that as many as 25% of children grades K-6 have vision issues that can impede learning.

-Seeing 20/20 is just one of 17 necessary vision skills that are crucial for learning. The skills are:

1. Eye Movement Control
2. Simultaneous Focus at Far
3. Sustaining Focus at Far
4. Simultaneous Focus at Near
5. Sustaining Focus at Near
6. Simultaneous Alignment at Far
7. Sustaining Alignment at Far
8. Simultaneous Alignment at Near
9. Sustaining Alignment at Near
10. Central Vision (Visual Acuity)
11. Peripheral Vision
12. Depth Awareness
13. Color Perception
14. Gross Visual-Motor
15. Fine Visual-Motor
16. Visual Perception
17. Visual Integration

-School vision screening is a start, but does not replace full vision testing completed by a vision professional (at an optometrist or ophthalmologist). Many learning difficulties can be attributed to vision problems that are not detected during typical school vision screenings.

-Many times vision issues are misdiagnosed as "laziness", ADHD, dyslexia or other learning disabilities. Watch a video on why 20/20 vision is not enough.

-Signs that your child may be struggling with vision include: frequent headaches, dizziness, tiredness, inability to complete homework in a timely fashion, or poor spelling. Visit the COVD website for a full checklist of vision issue symptoms.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Save on Krafty Eye Patches this Summer (July coupon code!)

Coupon Code for Krafty Eye Patches

Have fun patching this summer by creating your own patches. Visit for all kinds of great kits get 10% off now thru July31st coupon code: Summer10 

Patches are latex free and hypo-allergenic

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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Check out the COVD Visions of Hope Vision Therapy Video Contest!

Be sure to check out the COVD Visions of Hope Vision Therapy Video Contest! The deadline for submission is August 10th, so there is still plenty of time to submit your video of hope!

Now you can share your story of success with vision therapy and give hope to those who need it! Enter the COVD “Visions of Hope” vision therapy video contest on Facebook! Simply upload a video describing your success and, if it is selected for the contest, thousands of people will view and vote for the best videos on Facebook!

For more info:

Bumps along the road.

It has been a while since I have updated on Isabelle's progress with her Amblyopia.  In late March we went for our re-check and she was maintaining and doing great.  The doctor and I made the decision that we would stop patching for a bit and see if her vision would remain stable. Almost exactly a year ago we hit this same point but then at the re-check she had seriously tanked and regressed.   So, holding my breath we tried to go patchless. Belle, of course, was ecstatic about the idea of not wearing the patch.  In May, we went back for her re-check and the results were OK so she was able to still go without the patch.  With 2 successful appointments in a row, to say we were happy would be an understatement.  This has made it so much easier this summer - it is the first summer in what seems like forever that we haven't had to deal with hot, sticky, or irritating patches which are not beach or pool friendly.  

Well, Perhaps Belle and I were getting a bit too comfortable with this idea and on Monday when we went back for her re-check I was really hoping that she was still maintaining and wouldn't need the patch again. 
Unfortunately, I knew right away when she was in with the assistant doing the pre-visit stuff before the doctor comes in.  About 1/2 (or more) of the letters she was reading were wrong.  This wasn't just the O and C usual confusion...  It was letters that bare no resemblance to one another - she was guessing.  Belle started getting frustrated and I tried to keep a smile on my face and stay encouraging to her.

Her doctor looked at me and being sensitive to Belle he commented that "She may need some maintenance".   Belle, not being a dummy - said "Oh you mean the patch again.. not the patch!".  She was very close to tears and it was really awful to watch.  I just knew her vision had gotten worse and what he was saying confirmed it.  Sensitive to Belle getting upset about the patch and having a hard time with the chart , while her was doctor testing her he said... "How would you like to get some new glasses for 1st grade?".   She was very excited about the prospect of getting new glasses - though it is bittersweet to know the reason being  that her vision has gotten worse. 

Belle loves her new pretty purple frames and tells me she looks pretty in them because without her glasses on "she is blurry".

As for patching.  We will be resuming patching sooner than later.  The doctor wants her to get used to her new prescription and at our next re-check we will discuss the patching and the duration.  In the meantime we are going to try to enjoy and make the best of our remaining patch free days of summer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July is Eye Injury Prevention Month

July is Eye Injury Prevention Month

The month of July has been declared Eye Injury Prevention month. Aside from sports related injuries to the eyes, eye injuries commonly take place in both the home and the workplace. With more than 2,000 (estimated) eye injuries taking place daily in the workplace, a focus needs to be put on prevention and safety. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most of the eye injuries are a result of projectiles or sparks striking the eye which reinforces the necessity of wearing proper fitting protective eyewear. OSHA requires employers to provide their workers with the appropriate eye protection in the workplace for jobs at risk for eye injury. Other dangers to the eyes include chemicals as well as harmful radiation (including sun damage!). It is important that appropriate protection for your eyes be used depending on the hazards and risks of your specific workplace.

Access the US Department of Labor & OSHA fact sheet at:

For more info about preventing workplace eye injury visit Prevent Blindness America's
Eye Safety at Work site including their Wise Owl Eye Safety Recognition Program

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May is Healthy Vision Month

May is Healthy Vision Month

The month of May has been named Healthy Vision Month. This observance was declared in May 2003 by the National Eye Institute, a division of the US Department of Health and Human services. Focus for the month is on making healthy vision a priority across the nation and to draw attention to the many undetected vision conditions and diseases such as AMD, Glaucoma, and Amblyopia that can be uncovered through routine vision screening and comprehensive eye exams.

Your Checklist to Healthy Eyes this May:

1. Schedule an appointment to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam including dilation. Parents should schedule an appointment for their child's vision screening as early as 6 months of age.

2. Be aware of your family vision history - from wearing glasses to eye diseases such as AMD or glaucoma.

3. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses in the outdoors and protective eyewear for sports. Parents and educators should keep continued focus on children's toys and possible dangers to the eyes.

4. Eat right including a diet rich in fruits, vegetables (leafy greens and carrots are particularly beneficial) as well as omega-3 fatty acids (from fish).

5. Keep your eyes clean. Wash your hands frequently (especially important for contact lens wearers). Make-up wearers be sure to heed the advice of these eye makeup safety tips and toss out your eye makeup and get a clean start.

6. Give your eyes a rest to prevent eyestrain. If using a computer, reading, or watching TV take a break every 20 minutes. Give your body and eyes a break by getting proper amounts of sleep.

7. Quit smoking - its not just bad for your body and those around you, it is bad for eyes too.

For more info on Healthy Vision Month -
The NEI has set up the Healthy Eyes Website where you can learn about what is included in a comprehensive eye exam including dilation of the pupil, send e-cards, find a list of themed text messages and more.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April is Sports Eye Safety Month

April is Sports Eye Safety Month

In addition to April being Autism Awareness Month, April is also Sports Eye Safety Month. It is estimated that 40,000 eye injuries take place annually are sports related. Being fit and active is great but steps need to be taken to protect your eyes and vision. Out of those 40,000 eye injuries over 90% of them could have been prevented with proper eyewear and protective gear.

Eye injuries are one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in children. Common injuries range from abrasions of the cornea, bruises of the lids to internal eye injuries such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding. Unfortunately, some end up with permanent vision loss and blindness that could have been prevented.

It is a myth/common misunderstanding that only children who wear glasses require protective eyewear for sports. All children's eyes and vision should be protected. Children who require the use of prescription lenses will have different protective eyewear needs.

It is a myth that the only sports that require protective eyewear are sports such as hockey, football, baseball or basketball. Each sport has its own unique eyewear needs - yes, tennis, swimming, soccer, martial arts and cheerleading too.

Most sports leagues do not enforce or require mandatory eye protection. Parents, it is up to you to demand this of your local sports programs and to be proactive in protecting your child's vision regardless of requirement.

For children who wear glasses, the use of polycarbonate (shatter-proof) plastic lenses or contact lenses is recommended. Protective sports goggles (like Rec Specs) can be made with prescription lenses. I ordered Rec Specs for my daughter who plays ice hockey and it was a very simple process. In Ice Hockey they also wear a helmet with a full face shield.  children should get into the safe practice of wearing protective eyewear such as a helmet with a face shield or sports goggles. Children who wear prescription lenses can get prescription goggles such as Rec Specs, Jr. My daughter plays ice hockey and wears both a helmet with a full face wire cage and prescription Rec Specs JR that I ordered from A Sight for Sport Eyes and had them in about a week. They are made of polycarbonate material and have a safety strap to hold them onto her head. Rec Specs is just one brand of Sports Goggles which come in several different styles. If your child wears glasses and will be playing sports, be sure to ask your eye doctor about getting them fitted for a appropriate sports goggles for their preferred sport.

For more info on Sports Eye Safety month including: a full listing of suggested eye protection by sport, a sports eye safety press release, and sports eye safety proclamation visit the AOA website.

Printable Handout on Protective Eyewear

Easter Egg Hunts for the blind & visually impaired with Beeping Eggs

Easter Egg Hunts Using Beeping Eggs

Easter is around the corner and kids love to search for colorful plastic eggs filled with loot. If you have ever gone to one of these egg hunts, you know that they are incredibly fast paced and kids have to be very fast at collecting the allotted number of eggs. For kids with special needs the egg hunts can present challenges.

And, what about the kids who cannot see these brightly colored eggs, hidden or not?

More and more communities are hosting egg hunts for special needs children including those with vision impairments. Instead of looking for eggs with their eyes, they are able to look with their ears. Visually impaired children listen for beeping, chirping, peeping, tweeting - coming from inside special sound emitting eggs and search for the eggs which may be 'hidden' in otherwise plain sight.

Some such eggs include the Hide 'Em & Find 'Em Eggs and special beeping eggs by Maxi-Aids.

The cost per egg is much higher than the 'cheap' plastic fillable eggs. Between $5-17 per egg - in comparison, packages of 12-18 plastic fillable eggs sell typically sell for around $1. At Blind egg hunts, children find the beeping eggs and then trade them in for a filled egg to bring home with them. The beeping eggs have an on/off switch and they can be turned off and then used again in future egg hunts. Organizations need only to make a one time investment in the eggs and from time to time replenish their batteries.

article originally published by me at Bella Online Vision Issues

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The importance of a good warranty on kids glasses

It was one of THOSE days.  When I got the phone call from school, I expected to hear that my child was sick and could I come pick him up. Instead, it wasn't the nurse. It was his teacher. Oh boy!  I could only imagine why the teacher herself would call me.  She was calling to tell me that he had broken his glasses. She let me know that it was not purposeful and that he was very upset. Could I bring over spares? In the past, they have had spares at school but apparently he had worn them home at one point or another.  Since there was only 2 hours left in the day I told her to just baggy the broken glasses up and let him ride the day out - by the time I got home and then over to the school the day would be done.  He'd be OK for the short amount of time left in the schoolday.  When my son got off the bus, he thought he was in trouble because his glasses were broken.   I insured him that it was ok, it happens - and I went in his backpack to assess the damage.


When they said broken, they meant broken.

I found his glasses snapped completely in half at the bridge.

I dug out the paperwork because I remembered getting them over the summer - sure enough, the end of August.  So off we went to our eyeglass shop  with warranty/replacement plan in hand.  With  kids in glasses, a good replacement plan is an absolute MUST.  His lenses were in great shape but the frames were trashed.  Unfortunately, they didn't have his current frames in stock and they were on a backorder.  So, a simple swap of the lenses wasn't going to work.  Because that wasn't our fault, we went on and picked out new frames.

My son's lenses are relatively straightforward so they were able to get his new glasses made right away.   The new frames are X-Games "Blading" (in Oil Slick color). They are titanium, so they should hopefully stand up to my active (and autistic) 10 year old son!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I just read Jillian's Story and you should too! [ Vision Therapy Book Review]

A while ago I read an interview on Jillian's Story: How Vision Therapy Changed my Daughter's Life done by Dr. Nate of Bright Eyes. I contacted the author, Robin Benoit and told her about my daughter. I asked if she would like to post something about the book here on Amblyopia Kids to tell readers about it. I expressed that I was interested in reading it and she was kind enough to send me a copy of it.

Yesterday I decided to read it since my NOOKcolor was charging. I made myself a cup of my favorite blueberry coffee and sat down with Jillian's Story. And then I did something that I hadn't done in a while. I read a book cover to cover leaving my coffee to go cold. Ok, so it helps that the book is under 100 pages.. but it is very easy to read and a real page turner. So much of it I could relate to, and yes - I did cry.

Jillian's Story is the true story of a girl with Amblyopia, Jillian Benoit. The book is mother/daughter collaborative effort which chronicles her path from Amblyopia diagnosis to 'recovery'. Jillian was about my daughter's age when her amblyopia was discovered and the book was published after their six year 'journey' through patching and ultimately vision therapy.

As I opened up Jillian's Story and began to read it, I saw so much of my daughter in Jillian. Jillian, like my daughter, started out with patching her eye on the advice of her ophthalmologist and she had to wear it for a long time - even to school. Been there, done that. I give these kids who have to patch so much credit! Patching is hard work.

As I read about Jillian's struggles in Kindergarten the timing happens to be particularly on point - my daughter is "the slow cutter", the kid who never finishes her work during centers and has to bring it all home on top of "homework" - which can take hours... The "latest" was her teacher telling me that "she needs to budget her time better". I am dealing with a school that doesn't understand her vision issue and it is so very frustrating - especially considering the prevelance of amblyopia and other vision issues in children. My daughter's struggles are not unlike Jillian's... and it was largely due to Jillian's issues at school that led to her beginning Vision Therapy and changing her life... Yes, a lot of food for thought for me!

The topic of Vision Therapy raises some controversy because many ophthalmologists do not support it, nor do insurance companies pay for it. It reminds me a lot of the autism/biomedical treatment issues - having been there first hand. I also know that taking a risk and treating 'outside the box' with my son's autism has made a huge impact in the quality of his life. So, I am not adverse to Vision Therapy. In fact, I'm a huge fan of one of its pioneers Dr. Susan Barry, the author of Fixing My Gaze. You can learn more about vision therapy here (COVD website). I appreciated the honest take on Vision Therapy that Robin Benoit tells, even down to the nitty gritty on how some of the exercises made her daughter feel physically sick. The eyes are so linked with everything and Amblyopia, after all - is a neurological issue moreso that of the eyes.

I'll wrap up my post today with a heartfelt Thank You to Robin Benoit for being the one to share her daughter's story and promote understanding about Vision Therapy and how it can help. And, to Jillian for being a brave girl who went through a heck of a lot and came out on top.. you are an inspiration to many - including to me and my daughter. I can only hope that my daughter has a similar success and take comfort in reading how others have triumphed. I also find myself inspired to keep on the fight and get a handle on the many 'school issues' we have had all year and continue to have - because most of all what I hate is to see my child struggling.

Those who are impacted by amblyopia or vision related learning issues should consider picking up a copy of Jillian's Story. You can purchase the book at . There is a special promotion in March in honor of Jillian's 12th birthday. All month long, single copies of the book are $12 instead of $14.95.

Related Links:
Jillian's Story website
Become a fan of Jillian's story on facebook
Len Press on: Jillian’s Story: How Vision Therapy Changed My Daugther’s Life
Dr. Nate of Bright Eyes: Interview with Robin & Jillian about “Jillian’s Story” and Vision Therapy

How does Vision Therapy work

Here is a YouTube video about Vision Therapy.

How does Vision Therapy Work

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Krafty Patch Kits with Fun Bands & March Coupon Code

Does your kid like Silly Bandz?

My daughter is crazy about them.

Especially because she earned most of them by wearing her eye patch every day and "getting in her hours".

Now, you can get Krafty Eye Patch kits with stickers and "Fun Bands". The kit comes in a "sea life" theme including foam shapes and stickers as well as stretchy bracelets - appropriate for either boys or girls. I really like the bright colors!

New Coupon Code for Krafty Eye Patches - Good for March 2011
March 1st-31st
Coupon Code: FUN15

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

Ghoulia's Glasses

When my daughter made her Christmas list she put on it that she wanted a Monster High Doll, Ghoulia Yelps, specifically. I wasn't surprised this was the doll she picked for about half a dozen reasons - one big reason being that Ghoulia wears glasses. Her dad gave it to her for Christmas and she loves Ghoulia and her glasses.

Hooray for Dolls with Glasses!

Monster High Ghoulia Yelps Doll with Pet Owl Sir Hoots A Lot

Be a Voice for Vision - Eyes on Capitol Hill

On March 2 representatives of Prevent Blindness America will be walking the halls of Congress for our annual Eyes on Capitol Hill event. We will be making sure that Capitol Hill knows just how important vision and eye health are to you and your loved ones.

You can join in Eyes on Capitol Hill from home!

Call your Representative and Senators to tell them about vision and eye health and how important it is to you. Join the Prevent Blindness America Capitol Call-in on March 2 and take part in a national advocacy day dedicated to your eye health and vision.

Find out more about how to join the Eyes on Capitol Hill Call-in Day

Can't call on March 2? Click here to make your call today.

You can also RSVP on Facebook.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The NEW Princess Peepers book & a contest!

My daughter is a huge fan of Pam Calvert's Princess Peepers.  She is very excited that there is a brand new Princess Peepers book. We've known its been coming for a while and it is finally out (the official release date is March 1st, 2011) 

The new book is called Princess Peepers Picks a Pet and my very own Princess Peepers can't wait to get her hands on a copy of it!

Princess Peepers Picks a Pet

As it turns out the author, Pam Calvert,  is having a Princess Peepers Picks a Pet Contest  over on her blog and there are some really great prizes.   I know that a lot of Amblyopia Kids readers are also fans of Princess Peepers, so of course I'm sharing all about it (and entering the contest too).  

Of course, I don't think we can wait to get our very own copy of Princess Peepers Picks a Pet.  My daughter asked if she could buy it with her piggybank money! 

Related Links: 
Princess Peepers - Finally a Princess in glasses!  
Epinions Review - Princess Peepers
Purchase a copy of Princess Peepers  or Princess Peepers Picks a Pet 
Check out the Princess Peepers Picks a Pet Contest 
Princess Peepers Website 
Pam Calvert's Blog 
Princess Peepers on Facebook


iSight test app gives parents an insight into their toddler's eyesight. | Response Source

Can your child can see with both eyes?

iSight test app gives parents an insight into their toddler's eyesight.

We see this app as a great vision screening tool and to practice and gain confidence before a professional eye test

Parents, are you sure your child can see well with both their eyes?

Eye specialists have designed the iSight test app for measuring the vision of children as young as eighteen months using accurate, fully validated and clinically-tested pictures, plus letters that are US and UK approved for testing older children and adults.

Read the full Press Release at: iSight test app gives parents an insight into their toddler's eyesight. | Response Source

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Activities for Amblyopia & Patching - the unplugged edition

There's no doubt about it, kids love technology. Whether it is playing a video game, playing with apps on the iPad/iPod,  taking over mom or dad's smart phone, surfing the internet, or watching the TV. My kids love technology as much as the rest.  I've sung the praises high and low about how using the Nintendo DS has been a great activity for my daughter during her patching time.   However, how much is too much? It is always hard as a parent on where to draw the line and when to unplug.

During times when my daughter is wearing her patch - I try to make good use of it and fill the time with constructive activities that will work on her vision. It can be hard to find a balance of passive patching and 'active patching'.  Especially now that she is only patching for 4-5 hours a day I want to make the best use of the time as possible.  And with a conscious effort to 'unplug' - I thought I would share Belle's latest favorite activity - crafts.

  • Mosaic Art Activity Kit   We really like these mosaic craft kits which remind me a bit of color or paint by number. Instead of coloring or painting your child sticks precut peel & stick foam squares onto a numbered template.  We found the kit at our Toys R Us and used holiday gift cards.   I like it because it isn't very messy and all the cards and pieces store in a gallon zipperseal bag when she isn't using it.  The kit we purchased has both small and large numbered cards - and the small ones can easily take her up to an hour!  There is no lack of kids craft kits out there to try.  We'd previously been doing a lot of beading crafts but the cleanup from the beads is a bit more tedious than the mosaics, so we are switching to the mosaics for a while.
  • Playing with Lego sets - With a 10 year old brother, there is no lack of lego sets here.  My daughter previously seemed disinterested in them. That was until my son's occupational therapist and I discussed assorted activities that we could do to improve his "pinch and grasp" skills. So, we've had a push on Legos here at our house and between holidays and birthday's many new sets entered our home - mostly the Toy Story lego sets.  Belle has wanted to play along and I've seen how she too can benefit from this classic toy.  Assembling the small bricks really requires not just fine motor skill but also quite a bit of hand/eye coordination and focus as well.  Legos have quickly climbed the ranks for approved patching activities. 
  • Homework -  Though it does take her longer, I do have my daughter do her (kindergarten) homework while she is patching.  Whether it is a practice sheets or completing pages in her workbook - she is doing it patched.  I've watched over the past few months how her handwriting and coloring has improved.  
  • Since her teacher says that she is a "slow cutter" , we have also been working on activities that require cutting with kiddie scissors as well as coloring, painting, pasting.  The craft bin that hadn't seen as much use since preschool days has become rejuvenated.  
  •  Last but not least,  reading.  Belle is not yet reading independently - but she is working on it.  We are big readers here and love books. So whether it is reading (together) one of her own books or a borrowed book from the library, we read.   I'm watching her confidence build a bit in the reading department.  I've tried to find a balance between her favorite story books and the books geared to younger/new readers with simple words and larger font size (the scholastic Level 1 and the Bob Books are good choices).  Even though I do not need to, I follow along with the words with my finger and have her doing the same. Because she has a hard time focusing on the individual words - following along with her finger really helps.  We are seeing a lot less of the "I can't" and more attempted effort at sounding out words.  Slowly but surely I know we will have an independent reader on our hands.
What is your favorite unplugged activity to do with your patching child?

Amblyopia and Frequent Headaches

My daughter has been complaining a lot about 'having a headache'. At first I thought it was because she had been getting over being sick (ear infection, bronchitis, tummy bug, cold, general winter sickies - we've had it bad this year....

So, I mentally started to track when she tells me her head hurts .. It is always when she isn't wearing her patch. And her complaints have increased in frequency since our recent trimphant ophthalmologist visit when my daughter's patching 'hours' were reduced to 4-5 per day. I definitely plan on talking to our eye doctor and pediatrician about this to get to the bottom of it.

But, it seems we are not alone. A question posted on the Amblyopia Kids facebook page
revealed that her headaches are not alone. Others shared that their kids have frequent migraines, headaches during car rides, during times when their child has been reading alot. There seems to be a trend that the headaches happen off the clock from patching. A google search turns up even more hits of the relationship between amblyopia and headaches.

Can a Lazy Eye (Amblyopia) cause headaches?

All signs point to Yes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Coupon Code - 20% off Krafty Eye Patch Deluxe Kits

Here's the latest coupon code for Krafty Eye Patches!

For those using adhesive patches - these craft/patch kits are lots of fun and my daughter loves all the different SOLID color patches that they offer. I like that they don't rip her eyebrows or skin off :)

Deluxe Kit Special

20% off Now thru Feb14th
Coupon Code: Krafty20
(858) 537-0947 |

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Coupon Code - 20% off Krafty Eye Patch Valentine's kits

For those who like to "matchy match with your patch" - you have to see these..
Valentine Hair Bows & Patches 2 Hair Bows, 20 Red Patches, 1 Bag Acrylic Heart Jewels
Use code: Valentine20
20% off valentine kit

Also Since Winter is being relentless - the winter sale code has been extended through February.
Use code Winter15 for 15% off.

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