My 2-year-old was recently diagnosed with Amblyopia (lazy eye), with severe myopia (nearsightedness) in his left eye. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal as long as I follow the doctor's advice. Yet, here is my wonderful child, who learns new things every second of the day and now has to wear an eye patch five hours a day and glasses. If not, he could go blind in that eye which is scary to even think about.
On top of him not wanting to get dressed, making tremendous messes and being 2, I'm now faced with the challenge of getting glasses and an eye patch on my sweet little guy.
I'm trying not to get depressed over this as I know his eyes really can improve, but if they don’t, he'll need to have surgery. I've read everything I can about it and found a great Facebook page called My Little Four Eyes that shares parents’ trials and triumphs surrounding their child's vision, which gives me some hope and support. I also have a couple of friends who have gone through it. No matter what, everyone says it's just not easy and can be very frustrating.
The night before we decided to put the patch on him I was riddled with anxiety and couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know if it would change his personality or if patching his good eye would make him unable to see at all. In the morning I took the advice I'd read and put the patch on his eye while he was sleeping. He must have gotten scared because he woke up screaming, which made me feel awful and tear up. I waited a little until he seemed more awake, tried again and he ripped it off.
The other advice was to restrain his arms so he wouldn’t take it off. What?! That's horrible advice! Instead, I thought of mittens. I put them on him, managed to get the patch on with my husband's help, until he tore off the mittens then the patch. Deep breathes.
I waited and showed him photos of other children wearing eye patches and glasses. He says, "eye patch?" I told him it's going to make his eye strong. Yeah, reasoning doesn't go over really well with a 2-year-old, though he knows something is going on. Bribing and disciplining might work when he's older, but right now it's repeat, repeat, repeat.
We had bought a pirate doll to show him how cool the eye patch looks. I spoke in an upbeat voice to let him know it’s OK. Daddy held his arms and I managed to get the patch on him. He shook his little head, crying. I felt like we’re hurting him. He ripped it off immediately. I walked away.
I never knew I could love anyone so much in my life. To see him so unhappy is heartbreaking. I picked up my sweet son and hugged him tightly and walked him around in my arms telling him how much I love him. We sat down and I tried again, and after two hours of multiple attempts, at last he wore the patch and accepted it and wore it for four of the five prescribed hours. During that time, I played with him, watching him closely since the vision in his exposed eye isn't great.
Trying the glasses was another hurdle, so I figured one step at a time. My worst fear of it changing his mood was put to rest. The next few days putting the patch on was like putting his shirt on. He chooses between the two patch designs, then shakes his head no, but gives in. We even put the worn eye patches on stuffed animals.
Day five came along and we had to leave town last minute. Perhaps because of the change in environment, he wore the patch for an hour and took it off. Next day, same thing. Still no luck with him wearing the glasses for any given length of time. So again, I try, try again. I do know though, to keep focused on the benefits, read My Little Four Eyes for support and somehow carve more time out of my day in order to do what’s right for my son.
Marie Curie puts it nicely, "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."