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Eye Doctor Helps Blind Child Be Independent

"The Power of Optometry"

I was fortunate. I learned early in my career the power optometry had to change lives. I was given the responsibility of helping Amy, a very special 4 year old, during my first year of patient care, which occurred in my third year of optometry school. She was born prematurely and blind, along with her twin brother who suffered no vision loss or ill effects. Amy, who could not talk, stand nor walk would sit on the floor, head down to her chest, listening to her mom's keys as she jingled them directly in front of her face. I quickly noticed how traumatic the act of standing was to Amy, who would shriek with terror despite her mom's support. Amy's parents had taken her across the country to neurologists, ophthalmologists and other eye care specialists but to no avail. Now here she was in my exam chair!

As a student doctor at the time, I must admit to being a little intimidated, as she had been to many world class eye professionals. Nonetheless, I worked with Amy and built a level of trust over the next few visits. During that time, I noticed she reacted to a light source when placed up and to her left. Sure enough, I had discovered a small sliver of vision that still worked in her left eye. Finally, I had something to work with. I quickly went about creating a pair of glasses that took that little piece of vision she had left and 'centered' it directly in front of her.

The day we had all worked toward had arrived. Amy in her usual position, head down while sitting on the floor, allowed me to place her new glasses on. Now came the moment of truth. Getting Amy to stand up! Previous attempts at this had produced panic attacks in Amy. Now her mom supported her hands and gently lifted Amy to her feet. Slowly, Amy's mom released her hands and Amy wobbled as if ready to fall. As Amy stood there, shaking like a leaf, she did something that surprised everyone, she lifted her head off her chest and smiled. Tears welled up in my eyes as I passed around the Kleenex to her mom, who was crying with tears of joy.

I realized at that moment, that while I had not actually improved her eyesight, I had affected her life in a very positive way. Now for the first time, Amy would be able to stand and walk.

Now that's the Power of Optometry!

By Dr. David P. Yesnick O.D.

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