Zoe had her 4 year old well-child visit a month and a half ago. At that visit, they did the normal preschool vision and hearing screenings. I was pretty interested to see how they differ from the actual exams, as Zoe’s had full exams of both her eyes and ears in the past 6 months.
The hearing screening seemed pretty good, not a lot of room for subjective calls by the nurse or for Zoe to cheat on it, though I’ll readily admit, I know a lot less about hearing tests. The vision screening was another story, though.
The nurse led Zoe to a hallway and had her stand at a mark on the floor and read lines on the Lea chart (square, circle, house, and apple shapes) with one eye covered. She did fine with her left eye, but when she tried to read the chart with her right eye, I watched her try to cheat by moving the paddle away from her eye, and moving forward a foot or so past the line to see better. She still couldn’t read the same line that she did with her left eye. The nurse said nothing and I was not referred to get her vision checked out further. Now it may well be that the nurse figured that since Zoe wears glasses, she is already seeing an eye doctor and didn’t need a referral, but I was still pretty annoyed at not getting any feedback. Still, I knew her regular eye appointment was coming up, and thought (hoped) that there was maybe a chance that she was seeing fine. So I decided to wait until her regular visit to see what her eye doctor thought.
That visit was today. Sadly, it was again clear that her right eye just wasn’t seeing nearly as well as her left, and according to her ophthalmologist, a stronger prescription wouldn’t do anything to help it. In other words, we’re now looking amblyopia square in the face. Zoe did her first patching session this afternoon. Tonight when we read Fancy Nancy Spectacular Spectacles, she asked whether Bree needed to patch, too. She’s worried about kids laughing at her at daycare.
Knowing now that Zoe really was struggling to see with her right eye, I’m even more upset by the casualness of the vision screening. In our case, it ended up not having horrible consequences, we still caught it and we’re treating it. But what if Zoe wasn’t in glasses and didn’t have regular full eye exams? What if I didn’t know how to spot her cheating and what that might mean? Not treating amblyopia has serious implications. I strongly recommend that all parents get full eye exams (not screenings) for their kids at least before they start school if not earlier, and not rely solely on a screening.
Oh, and I’m happy to take any patching wisdom that any of you have to offer.