Excerpt from: Dear Mom and Dad

A FAQ-Sheet from Apple Patty's Mom
"What is amblyopia, anyway? Amblyopia, not "apple"-y-opia as my lovely daughter thinks it's called, is a vision disorder usually diagnosed in childhood. Ambly- means "dull," so it's a dull-vision that afflicts approximately 2 to 3 % of children in the United States. The good news is that it is very treatable and responds well when the child (and her parents, naturally) are disciplined in its treatment. The most common form of amblyopia occurs when a child has one eye with normal or very nearly normal vision and significantly poorer vision in the other. Your child sees well out of one eye and suppresses the information she receives from her other eye. So why do we have two eyes anyhow? The main reason that we have two eyes is to produce a perception of depth, in other words, a three dimensional image. If your child is amblyopic then she is without 3D vision. This is something you can experience for yourself. Cover one eye and walk around the room for a minute. Then pick out a small object, stand what you feel is exactly an arm's length distance away from it, then slowly reach out and touch it with the very tip of your finger. If you do this (alone, of course, with the shades drawn), you'll most likely think that your arm has suddenly grown a few inches shorter and you will find yourself having to stretch to reach the goal. Now take your hand off your eye and try again. With a little good judgement you probably touched it with the very end of your finger, didn't you? Well, that good judgement is depth perception and you need two eyes to be able to do it effectively. Well, then how does my child compensate? Simple, even though she has both eyes open, she only sees out of her good eye. Her brain actually shuts off the image that comes from her weak eye and relies solely on her good eye. Ready for another experiment? Get a drinking glass out of the cupboard and put it over one eye. Now resume walking around the room looking out of both eyes. It doesn't take too long for you to start paying attention to the image coming from the uncovered eye, does it? Of course, you can't actually shut off the poor image like your child can, but you get the idea of your child's circumstance. Your child has a wonderfully adaptive brain and in short order it starts ignoring the image from the weak eye completely. So she doesn't compensate at all, really. She sacrifices 3D vision for good vision. Where she does compensate is in her ability to pick up objects. She may turn her head slightly to judge a distance. She might bump into things on the side opposite her good eye...."



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