Many parents blind to rare eye problem in kids

Many parents blind to rare eye problem in kids

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by Cathy Marshall, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 6 at 5:22 PM

PORTLAND -- Thousands of children in Oregon may have an eye problem their parents have never even heard of.

It’s called amblyopia.

“Basically the child’s not using both eyes. There could be a blockage in vision or a problem focusing,” explained Joannah Vaughan, the director of the Elks preschool vision screening program.

Since 2003, the Elks organization, through the Casey Eye Institute, has paid for screening low income children who are in the Head Start program. Amblyopia can be treated with glasses or surgery.

More: Casey Eye Institute

Detecting the problem early is critical.

“It’s very easy to treat before age 7, but almost impossible after that because the brain has learned not to rely on the problem eye,” added Vaughan.

That’s why the Elks vision screening program targets three to five year olds.

“It’s hard to know your child has it. They might have trouble with homework or be squinting, but often it goes undetected,” said Carole Carmichael at Albina Head Start.

Last year, the Elks screenings detected three children with amblyopia in the Albina program.

“All of a sudden they’ll have interest and you can see how different it is for them when they get their glasses,” remarked Carmichael, “We love having the Elks come here.”

 

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