Vision Update – 2 years 3 months

Lyra had an appointment with her pediatric ophthalmologist this month, a check-up that was originally scheduled for the end of September. Several weeks ago, we lost one of the lenses from Lyra’s glasses. After over a week of searching, I gave up. We knew we had to get her a new pair. I didn’t want to buy her a new pair of glasses right then, knowing there was a chance that her prescription might change in September.  So, I called Lyra’s PO to see if they could get her in sooner. Luckily, they were able to schedule her an appointment later the next week. In the mean time, they said it was okay for Lyra to wear her old glasses…just until the appointment.
The day before Lyra’s appointment…the missing lens to her other glasses magically appeared. There it was, just sitting on the end table in the living room. I don’t know how it got there. We asked Rebekah and Dominick and neither of them knew how it got there. I suspect Lyra may have found it on the floor somewhere and just picked it up and put it on the table, but as much as I GRILLED her…she just wouldn’t confess…lol. 😛   Maybe it was the dog.

Lyra’s check-up went really well. They dilated her eyes and all that fun stuff. Her refractive error didn’t change, so her prescription remained the same. So much for my reasoning for Lyra needing a sooner appointment. 😛 Dr. Grin did note that Lyra was focusing on objects/noisy toys at a further distance. She was looking at and paying attention to the wiggling barking stuffed dog on the shelf across the room. …well okay then. 😛
Regarding Lyra’s nystagmus, Dr. Grin said that when she is focusing on something close up, her nystagmus REALLY slows down. Since the appointment, I’ve been paying attention to that more, and I agree. I’ve even noticed that for very brief moments when she’s focusing on something, her nystagmus stops completely.  Her next appointment will be in 6 months.

Dr. Grin did not, nor does she ever give us any type of visual acuity numbers for Lyra. I’m okay with that. She said she’s seen children have a visual acuity of 20/200 and then at an appointment 6 months later that same child see at 20/80. Those numbers fluctuate and they are not a definitive or complete indication of what Lyra sees.  However…just for the sake of numbers, we do now have a number.  Last month at the NOAH conference, we had the opportunity to get those visual acuity numbers. Doctors from the University of Minnesota were seeking volunteers to participate in a research study. It consisted of some basic information forms and a questionnaire and also included a vision test. They used a preferential looking test, specifically Teller cards, and based on that test, at that time Lyra’s acuity was 20/130. Those numbers mean more to other people than the do to me really. When people ask us, “So what IS Lyra’s vision like?”…that number is really what they’re asking for. So now I have a number I can give them…instead of just a range. I know her acuity may be better or worse than that on any given day depending on the environment and situation, but knowing whether its 20/100 or 20/360 doesn’t make any difference or serve any purpose. For those people who ask and just HAVE TO know… 20/130 is what I’m goin’ with. 🙂

Just over the last month I’ve actually had a more than a few opportunities to respond to those people, asking how well Lyra sees. After talking to those people and just thinking about comments people have made in the past, I’ve come to a conclusion… I think Lyra’s glasses are misleading. I think a lot of people assume that with her glasses on, she has 20/20 vision. When I’ve told people that Lyra’s vision is 20/130 WITH her glasses ON, many of them are shocked. These are people who have known Lyra since birth. A common response is, “Really! I had no idea her vision was that bad.” People knew Lyra had vision problems but apparently thought her glasses “fixed” all of those problems. It just really makes me wonder now, how many other people in Lyra’s life think this.

I can understand how easy it would be to think Lyra sees better than she does. She does function very well and puts on quite an act, fooling people into thinking she has perfect vision. I admit, sometimes she has me fooled, forgetting that she has any visual impairment. Then one day, Lyra walks up to a pile of laundry sitting on the couch and says, “Hi Daddy!”…and I’m reminded, oh yeah, she can’t see perfectly. 🙁 Fortunately those sad moments are rare. Honestly, MOST moments are happy moments, when the focus is on silly, beautiful, sweet Lyra…and not on her visual impairment.

Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On

Okay so I found some time to make this video.

This is my attempt at zooming in on Lyra’s eyes so that you can see the degree/severity of her nystagmus. I apologize for my crappy camcorder skills. Between me not holding the camera steady and Lyra’s wiggling, it’s hard to know what shaking is actually her nystagmus. Every once in a while I was able to catch her holding still with her eyes wide open. Look for those moments and then you should see her nystagmus.

The first part of the video was filmed in the early afternoon and the second half was right before her bedtime. Sometimes her nystagmus is more noticeable when she is tired. See if you can tell a difference. I couldn’t. 😛

Nevermind my singing…LOL… I promise I really do have a degree in music education. 😛

Vision Update

I have been meaning to post this for several weeks. Lyra visited her pediatric ophthalmologist for a check-up last month.

They dialated her eyes this time to see if her refractive error had changed, and it did. Her prescription changed from +2.50 to +3.25 in her left eye and from +2.75 to +3.75 in her right eye. It’s not a huge jump or anything, but to change that much in only 6 months freaks me out just a little. Dr. Grin said her biggest issue is her astigmatism. She said it is fairly common for people with albinism to have a significant astigmatism.
So she is getting new glasses. We decided not to get her the transition lenses this time. With Lyra becoming more comfortable outside, I worried that the transition lenses just wouldn’t be dark enough. Instead we are getting her a pair with clear lenses and also a pair of prescription sunglasses. Hopefully we will have them in a week or so.

The health of her eyes is good, no problems there. Dr. Grin said the alignment of her eyes still looks great and her nystagmus is very minimal. I’ve said this before, but I rarely notice her nystagmus at all. I often wonder how this compares to other kids with albinism. I say her nystagmus isn’t that bad, but what does that mean really? As soon as I have some time (Ha Ha), I am going to get a close up video of her eyes and her nystagmus and post it on here so you all can see exactly how bad or not bad it is.

As far has her functional vision progress goes, I have just one thing I want to mention while I’m thinking about it. 🙂 She is doing really good with walking up and down steps inside on her own. When walking up or down steps outside, she is extremely hesitant and ALWAYS needs help. She clutches my finger tightly and I have to say “step” for EVERY step so she knows to feel for it with her foot and then go up or down. I really don’t think she has a clue where the next step is. It just tells me how much her sensitivity to those bright lighting conditions can affect her overall visual abilities.

Bubbles Bubbles…Pop!

Lyra has been exceeding all of my expectations with her vision. She has seen things or done things I thought would never happen. Like all kids with albinism, Lyra has multiple eye problems that contribute to her overall low vision. One of those is nystagmus which is an involuntary rhythmic shaking of the eyes. Lyra’s nystagmus is very mild most of the time, but it gets worse when she is concentrating hard or tired or not feeling well.

Tracking or following moving objects can be very challenging for someone with nystagmus. Seeing something that is clear or “see through” when you have low vision is also a challenge. Playing with and popping bubbles in the air is an activity that requires BOTH! It is something I could have never imagined Lyra being able to do. It was one of the many things I’ve thought about in the past….things I’ve worried about…worried that Lyra would never get to see and experience. They’re the little things we take for granted.

Well Lyra CAN pop bubbles…and chase them and point to them and stomp on them and even try to eat them! 😀 She was even able to follow and point to bubbles I’d blown when we were playing outside…in less than optimal lighting conditions.

I am thrilled that Lyra is doing so well, but I’m still always on guard. I’m not going to hold her back, but at the same time I don’t want to expect too much because I don’t want to be disappointed. I get so excited when I see her able to really see things that I wouldn’t expect. I’m definitely more hopeful for the future. With that hope and my prayers, someday, maybe she’ll get to see that shooting star after all. 🙂

Vision Update


Lyra had another appointment with her pediatric ophthalmologist a few weeks ago. Her vision continues to improve, however the best estimate we can get as far as accuity is still 20/200. She is too young to obtain visual acuities with standard measures. Dr. Grin is not seeing any recurrence of the strabismus and her nystagmus is less apparent. Lyra hasn’t developed any noticable head tilt that is sometimes associated with nystagmus. Her prescription for her glasses remains the same at +2.75 and +2.5. They didn’t dilate her eyes this time. They will do that at her next appointment in about 4 months. Lyra continues to do better at leaving her glasses on. As long as no one draws attention to them, she really just forgets about them and leaves them alone. Although, at the rate she’s growing, she’ll need a new pair before too long. Uhhhhggg…

A couple of months ago when Lyra had her functional vision update, her vision was assessed using the Teller grating acuity cards. These were used to get a “crude estimate” of near vision acuity. I had heard of these cards before, but I had never seen them and Lyra had never been evaluated using them. The results of this test put Lyra’s near vision acuity somewhere between 20/89 and 20/180. She was able to point to the stripes on the 20/180 card, but not the stripes on the 20/89 card.

It’s hard to know how well she can see at a distance. I know that if she is more than 5-6 feet away from me in a room with other adults, its difficult for her to recognize me unless she hears my voice. This is hard for me to deal with at times…especially when I’m picking her up from the nursery at church. I’ll be standing there next to a couple of other moms and I’ll see Lyra there squinting trying to see if maybe one of those tall mom like figures standing in the doorway might be her mommy. 🙁
I should focus on the positive. Lyra is doing AMAZINGLY well functionally. If not for the glasses, your average person on the street would not know she had a visual impairment. 🙂

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