“At school I was seeing double today, Mom,” said 9-year-old Eliza in May of 2015. Catherine hadn’t noticed her daughter’s eyes crossing and suspected that her fourth grader was simply tired.
A few weeks later, however, Catherine and her husband were sitting in the front row at Eliza’s chorus concert, when suddenly they both noticed their daughter’s eye was crossed. It was Eliza’s 10th birthday.
“She was fine one day, and then the next her eyes weren’t working together,” says Catherine. “It was terrifying.” …
Five years ago, Dan Lee had planned a big outing with his newly adopted daughter Manisha Sapkota, a 14-year-old from Nepal.
“I was excited to take her to see ‘Toy Story 3D’ — her first 3D movie,” recalls Dan. But Lee was puzzled by his daughter’s response when he asked her what she thought.
“It was OK,” Manisha told her dad.
A few months later, Manisha’s lukewarm response made more sense. During her first physical exam in the U.S. at the Boston Children’s Hospital Martha Eliot Health Center, the doctor suggested Manisha might have amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” in her left eye.
“She told us she couldn’t see anything when the other eye was covered. I thought she was playing. I was shocked,” says Dan.
Manisha was referred to Dr. Amy Moy, director of optometry at Martha Eliot.
“Usually, optometrists see children for their first visit at age 3 or 4, but that’s not the case in Nepal,” explains Moy.
As Dan thought about his new daughter’s medical history, the diagnosis started to make sense. Manisha had probably been born with a lazy left eye that was never diagnosed. Because she didn’t use the eye, her vision worsened. But for Manisha, seeing the world through one eye was normal.
Rigorous testing confirmed the diagnosis — Manisha had lazy eye. Her vision in the left eye was 20/200 — close to the cutoff for legal blindness. …
From artificial organs to robotic surgery, modern medical science has vastly improved in the past few decades. Why then, despite all these technological advances, are most pediatricians and public schools still using vision tests developed 148 years ago? In a world where surgeons can preserve the vision of patients with ocular tumors, relying on a vision test where kids simply cover an eye and read a string of letters seems a little archaic. But despite its simplicity, the commonly used Snellen Eye Chart is very accurate— assuming the test subject is old enough to understand what’s being asked of him. …