Shared Vision: A Little Creativity can Bring a lot of Clarity
Change Maker Sponsor - United Way of Greater Toledo

Shared Vision: A Little Creativity can Bring a lot of Clarity

This post is brought to you by the generous support of Medical Mutual of Ohio and it’s 2,500 employees. Providing quality health insurance products statewide, Medical Mutual strives to help Ohioans achieve their best possible health and quality of life.

United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.

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Amblyopia. A big word for a small kid. But I know the word well.

My mama told me I developed amblyopia before I could crawl, but no one ever knew it. As I grew older, I struggled with reading and writing. Most people probably thought I wasn’t that smart. Sometimes when I’d walk up a flight of stairs, I would trip or miss a step. I’d hear people whisper about how clumsy I was, which hurt my feelings. If only they understood how much I struggled to see...

Not having clarity was my normal, so I found little ways to deal with it.

Eventually, I discovered that I could read better if I covered my left eye. Little did I realize how this small gesture would change my life.

One day at school, my teacher noticed I was holding a hand over my eye while reading the board. She decided to send me to the nurse, who called my parents to ask if they’d had my eyes checked recently. Both of my parents worked during the day, and beside that, we didn’t have a car to get me to the doctor’s office. That’s when the school nurse told them about Lucas County’s Mobile Vision Program.

My parents, along with the parents of some of the other students, agreed to have someone from the Mobile Vision Program visit our school to perform sight examinations. 

The day I was pulled out of class to have my eyes examined, I was so nervous and I had no idea what to expect. Mr. Ivory, the vision screener, explained to me as he worked, that even when eyes appear to be healthy, sometimes there are problems hiding behind them.

After the examination, he then stated in a serious, but soft tone, “Young lady, your right eye is a little lazy.”

Unable to stop myself, I laughed. A lazy eye? That sounded ridiculous! “How can an eye be lazy?” I asked.

He smiled back and then provided me with a vision lesson. Mr. Ivory taught me that our eyes work together with the brain to create vision. He said that sometimes, if one of the eyes doesn’t work as well with the brain, the brain ignores it and favors the stronger eye.

It’s called amblyopia, sometimes referred to as lazy eye.

Amblyopia. That’s the first time I ever heard that strange, yet vision-altering word.

There were a surprising number of us diagnosed with amblyopia that day. Additionally, we all found out the best treatment for a “lazy eye” was eye-patching. Mr. Ivory told our school nurse that we would all need to wear eye patches for six hours each day to improve the vision of the weaker eye.

It was our art teacher, Mrs. Chambers, who came up with a creative solution. She called it The Pirates Club. Knowing that we all would resist wearing eye patches, she designed cool, personalized patches for us!

My friend Janice had a cat on her eye patch. Another boy, Nate, had a basketball on his. I, on the other hand, wanted to be an actual pirate, so the art teacher painted a skull and crossbones across mine. It was our own exclusive club. And, we were only allowed into the Pirates Club if we wore our eye patches every day.

Eventually, only a few months later, both my eyes were working much better together. I kind of miss being a pirate. But now I can walk up the stairs without missing a step, and read and write without covering my eye. Finally, my days in the classroom and at home came with some clarity.

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CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Our funding for the mobile vision program is just one component of United Way’s work to help children in our community live healthier lives. By donating below, you support these important programs that help our next generation succeed in school, and in life.

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*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Lucas County Health Department, on behalf of their Mobile Vision Program. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.

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