When Ashleigh was 2, we started to notice that she would cross her eyes. My husband and I would observe her eyes crossing at dinner time and later at night when she would get tired. At first we thought nothing of it. “Oh, she’s just tired,” we would say when my mom and sister started to notice it too. At her next doctor’s appointment we spoke with her pediatrician about the crossing and she directed us to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
At this appointment, I waited over an hour (with a tired 2 year old, mind you). After the doctor finally got to see us, Ashleigh was exhausted from waiting. She was uncooperative and crabby. Who could blame her? The doctor was so nice, though, and got Ashleigh to look at a bunch of pictures and tried to get her to tell him what they were. She tried really hard, but could not see anything. She would squint, her eyes would cross and she would turn her head just to try and see those objects. He recommended glasses and she was such a good sport. She wore those tiny blue glasses everyday without complaint. She was just so cute!
At her next appointment, 3 months later, the doctor said that things were not getting better and he would have to increase her prescription significantly (+9.75 in both eyes) in order to stop her eyes from crossing. This would also cause her not to be able to see things that were far away but the doctor did not seem very concerned about that. Not concerned? How could you not be? Can you imagine not being ale to see far? My little girl was not able to look out a window and see trees. Instead, she would just see a blob of green and brown. She stayed at this prescription for about 2 years.
At the age of 4, the doctor noticed a significant discrepancy between the two eyes. One eye was seeing much better than the other. It was time for “The Patch”. 25 hours per week, Ashleigh needed to wear a patch covering her right eye in order to make her left eye stronger. Every day it was a fight to get the patch on. Eventually, she would put it on without the tears but there were still complaints. This process went on for about a year and finally the two eyes seemed to be equally strong, but there was still the crossing issue, but only when the glasses were off. She still could not see things that were far too.
February 2013 brought good news. Ashleigh’s eyes were improving and we were making progress. Ashleigh’s lens prescription went down (+7.25 in both eyes) and she continued without the patch. “I can see the leaves on the tree,” she said the first day she had her new glasses and looked out the front window. “I didn’t know the leaves looked like that.” We were so happy!
Today, after a year of promise, we go back for another check-up and guess who is coming back…The Patch! It was very obvious at this appointment that her left eye was not as strong as her right and I knew what was coming. When the doctor said we would need to patch for 2 hours a day, I saw all the life drain out of Ashleigh. She was so disappointed. I know She hates patching and I cannot think of any way to make it fun. I know what is best for her, I even ordered a patch for her online so that she does not have to have the sticky patch on her face (this one just slips over her lenses and is a panda bear – it is super cute!). How can I make something like this fun?
We started a countdown until our next appointment. She even did all the math. Our next appointment is in 3 months. “That’s 12 weeks,” she said. “Mom, if there are 7 days in a week, how many days are in 12 weeks?” “Let’s add it up,” I say. And we do…84 days and counting until we try to get rid of “The Patch”!