Brooke seemed to be a very normal healthy, happy little girl who loved chasing her older brother around the house. She gave us no indication to the fact that she was having difficulty seeing. From birth she hit every mile stone, some later than others but not too late that it was a cause for concern. She attended all her healthy baby check ups and was always in the 70 – 90 percentiles. She has always loved doing crafts, colouring, drawing and singing. She is so good with her crafting skills that you would think she could see very well. Coping is what she was doing, not seeing. She coloured better than most 4 year olds, always staying in the lines. Stringing the smallest beads was never a frustrating activity. However, she never wanted to do “school” things with myself or her father. She didn’t want work books or to practice her letters or shapes. She was content to use her imagination and play out her roles. It wasn’t until she was 2.6 and started daycare that the first signs of trouble appeared. Her right eye turned completely into her nose. Her daycare care teacher called me into the classroom to see for myself. I couldn’t think of any falls or traumas that could have caused the issue to arise. We made an appointment to see her family physician and were told she may have a lazy eye and a referral to McMaster children’s hospital was made. Upon being seen by the specialist we were refereed to a Hamilton eye doctor (optometrist), someone who is well respected by the specialist and can give us a clearer picture of our daughter’s issue. The optometrist gave her a very thorough eye exam coming to the conclusion that she was legally blind in her right eye and has been using her left eye to compensate. Her brain was turning the right eye off because it was seeing double and only wanted to use the clear eye. This is why the eye turned in. We were assured this is quite common and can be fixed. She would then have to patch her strong eye daily for 4 hours each time to force the brain and her bad eye to work together. This is no small feat with a 2 year old. There was and still are many tears over patching. She received her first pair of glasses at this time from the optometrist and when she put them on her response was “Wow! Mommy I see everything!” As a mother that was the best and worse sentence ever. Knowing that her world has changed is a blessing. But, having the knowledge of how hard it must have been up till now was horrifying. She then went back to McMaster to see the specialist and had muscle surgery to try and correct the turning of her eye. Which it did, for a while. With patching her eye being such a difficult task, I’m ashamed to say it doesn’t get done daily as needed which has made the eye weaker again causing the brain to once again disregard it and turning of the eye follows. I think the frustration for Brooke with the patching is because she is then forced back into the blurry world that her glasses gave her relief from. And, to a small child 4 hours is a lifetime. Just recently her eye has started to turn more continuously again and we have been back to both doctors and have been informed that she may need another surgery. She wears her glasses daily, and will for the rest of her life. She loves them and knows having them has made her world better. Brooke hasn’t changed much with her new found vision. She still loves crafts, camping singing and writing. However, she is now more inclined to take risks. She has recently started skating lessons and hopes to be a figure skater one day. She is behind in school and goes to remedial classes every day for 20 minutes a day. But, I will say that as soon as she got her glasses she all of the sudden wanted to know everything, wanted to read books, practice her shapes and letters. Brooke has always been a strong girl with her own mind and will do things in her own time. After having the glasses and the continual treatment from both the optometrist and the specialist at McMaster, she has become even stronger and more free spirited. It comes from having to deal with the world unknown and then getting the gift of true sight. I can’t stress enough how important it is for parents of Junior Kindergarten students to utilize the Eye See..Eye Learn program offered to you in your area. Our children are stronger and more courageous than we are and will cope, but why would you want that for them. We should all want to give our children the best tools possible to be the best people they can be. The only way to do this is to take advantage of every thing you are offered. Never take for granted that your child is healthy, get them checked early and regularly. Otherwise the guilt you fell will eat you up inside. A guilt that can be avoided by simply making an early eye exam just as important as their healthy baby check ups with your family physician. I only wish the Eye See…Eye Learn program was available to me and my daughter 3 years ago. Maybe her story wouldn’t have had so many bumps in it if she had her eyes checked at 2. It has made the last 3 years very difficult on her and on the people around her. Early detection is the only cure.
Brooke`s story was submiited by Brooke`s parents through OAO`s Eye See… Eye Learn program.