Amblyopia is commonly known as lazy eye. This means poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal eyesight during early childhood.
How we discover her lazy eye
Singapore’s public healthcare support is pretty comprehensive, if not perfect. The Health Promotion Board will send their officers to all childcare centres or preschools to perform an annual basic eye check for all children from Kindergarten 1 onwards, which is when they are between 4 to 6 years old. My daughter flunked her check badly and was referred to the Eye Centre at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital for a second round of detailed eye check last year.
Results from the second check revealed that she has long-sightedness, a condition common amongst young children and often will self-correct as they grow. However, her astigmatism was pretty serious and her left eye was weaker than her right eye. The pediatric ophthalmologist prescribed her lens which could be made at any optical shop. She warned against letting my daughter to use the smart phone (strictly speaking no smart phone at all), limit TV time and distance from the TV screen. She would wear the prescribed lens for 6 months and follow-up with the ophthalmologist to check on the condition of her left eye subsequently.
So we went, 6 months later. My daughter’s lazy eye showed no improvement and the ophthalmologist decided on patching.
What causes lazy eye
This poor vision can be a result of astigmatism, long-sightedness or any other causes which occurred during early childhood. If discovered early in childhood, it can often be reversed.
Patching is one of the most frequently and effective methods used to rectify the lazy eye. A thin piece of adhesive patch, or sticker, is worn over the stronger eye for a few hours on a daily basis. In my daughter’s case, it’s for 2 hours a day. I heard of other children who need to wear the patch for 4 hours a day.
The patching forces the lazy eye to work harder, thus developing the part of the brain that controls vision. She will wear this for another 6 months before her 3rd visit to the doctor.
It is recommended that she engages in activities such as reading, doing artwork, playing or watching tv while wearing the patch. She will also continue to wear her glasses with the sticker over her right (stronger) eye.
My daughter was apprehensive about wearing the patch at first as she thought she looked ugly with the patch. In fact, she was not willing to wear this anywhere outside our apartment. A few weeks have passed and she has gotten used to having a patch over her eye.
We will see if her eyesight improves in 6 months’ time.