As a mother and an educator, Laura of Jefferson City knows the importance of vision when it comes to childhood development and education. Laura became an even stronger advocate of healthy childhood vision after a KidSight vision screening detected her daughter Claire had a vision impairment that could have resulted in blindness if not treated.
“As an educator I feel like I have an advantage since I have personally experienced the screening and been through the treatment process as a parent,” said Laura. “The screeners have always been very patient and compassionate with our preschoolers.”
When Claire was 5 and in Kindergarten, she was referred by a KidSight vision screening. “We received the card informing us a problem was detected,” said Laura. “We made an appointment to see our family eye doctor. She saw a doctor and picked out glasses the same day. I thought it was no big deal at the time and did not understand the severity and long road ahead of us.”
Claire’s eye doctor prescribed glasses and patching for her amblyopia and strabismus to strengthen her weak eye. After a year of patching, her eye turned inwards and, by the time she was age 7, her brain had shut off vision to that eye. Because she couldn’t see out of one eye, she had no depth perception, was cross-eyed and had other vision issues.
“It took finding the right doctor to start seeing progress and getting the right treatment plan. I had to be Claire's advocate and speak up for her until we found a doctor that listened to us and took the time to talk to Claire,” said Laura. “He was the one that started talking about possible surgery with us, but let us know it was our decision.” When Claire was 7, her parents and eye doctor decided it was time to go through with eye surgery since patching alone hadn’t strengthened her eye. Claire is now 9. She hasn’t had to patch since summer 2016 and hasn’t experienced regression in her vision thanks to a successful surgery and treatment plan. This spring, she will have a follow-up appointment with her doctor in hopes of taking her out of glasses.
Before Claire’s surgery, she used to be very shy and wouldn’t look people in the eye. She didn’t enjoy riding a bike or playing outside. “Claire seemed to be getting more shy and insecure while patching, because we were taking her strong eye away from her and making things very hard for her. She didn't complain, but instead was internalizing it all. I didn't realize how hard things were for her until after surgery and she was able to express the changes she saw,” said Laura.
Today, Claire loves to dance and draw and has gained so much confidence. She now looks people in the eye, talks with teachers and family more, learned to ride her bike and enjoys playing outside with her cousins. Since her treatment and surgery Claire often comments, ‘I wouldn't have been able to see that if I didn't get my surgery!’ about things like the leaves in the trees or a deer far off in the distance.
“Had we not gotten Claire's vision treated I strongly feel she would still be the shy child she was. I also believe she wouldn't be as strong a reader as she is because her vision would have continued to deteriorate until the point it was permanent vision loss,” said Laura. “Healthy vision is so important for success in school socially, emotionally, and academically.”
Laura advises other parents who receive a vision screening referral to ask questions at your doctor’s appointments, ask for second opinions and that it’s okay to switch doctors if you don’t feel like you have a good connection. “If you are referred, please go see an eye doctor. Claire wasn't able to tell us something was wrong because she didn't realize this wasn't usual. It may be a long and hard process but it will be worth it down the road,” said Laura.
“I truly appreciate the KidSight screening being offered because who knows what would have happened with her eye sight,” said Laura. “Claire will now look people in the eye and has so much more confidence than ever before!”