In this famous scene from Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks relates his mother’s observation that life is like a box of chocolates, because you never know what you’re going to get. It certainly seemed that way on the morning of June 18, 2012 when Amy Mele called our office with deep concern about her daughter. Alyssa was a scholar-athlete who was struggling considerably to keep pace with her work. The Child Study Team refused to test her because her grades were too good. She was complaining about difficulty seeing print both near and far, but the glasses her pediatric ophthalmologist prescribed made no difference. He referred her to a pediatric neurologist who told the family that Alyssa was a puzzle. Sometimes life is like a box of chocolates.
Dear Dr. Press and Staff, begins a letter that I received from Mrs. Mele on May 2, 2013, following Amy’s completion of optometric vision therapy. Here is the letter in its entirety.
One of the worst feelings you can experience as a parent, is knowing that something is wrong with your child, but not knowing how to correct it. After several yearly visits to the pediatric ophthalmologist, visits to a pediatric neurologist and pediatrician, we were no closer to finding out why, in Alyssa’s words, “when letters are put together on the board, they are jumbled”.
I decided to ask a friend, who is a speech therapist at a local school if she ever came across any student who exhibited any of the same vision issues as Alyssa. Within a day, she was able to provide me with the name of someone who might be able to assist. That name was Dr. Press.
When I called the office, and Miriam assured me that I finally had come to the right place, I cried tears of joy while on the phone with her. After a year of dead ends, I was hoping we were finally going to get some answers.
It was difficult watching Alyssa go through three one hour testing sessions. I couldn’t understand why she was having so much difficulty with some of these items that were so simple. I could see how much she was struggling though. She was exhausted after each hour session.
You can imagine my shock to learn that Alyssa has convergence insufficiency. Alyssa had surgical strabismus correction at two years of age. To look at Alyssa, her once lazy eye, was now completely straight. However, in her case, looks were deceiving. Just because her eye was now straightened, didn’t mean she was seeing correctly. We had come to learn that Alyssa had not seen correctly in 15 1/2 years. WOW, what a complete shock! How she didn’t suffer from severe headaches due to this, is beyond me. It’s a miracle that she has excelled in both the area of academics and athletics with this visual disorder.
So began the nine month journey of vision therapy. This was no easy feat. Alyssa is a 3 sport high school athlete. Due to her training, at any given time of year, she can involved in two or three sports concurrently. She also has two honors classes, and is involved in several school clubs. To say she is busy, is an understatement. Many nights after being at school since 7:30 AM, she would come home from sports practice and go directly to vision therapy. It has been a commitment on all our parts. However the end result would be well worth it. Gone would be the days of Alyssa taking 3,4, or 5 hours each night to complete her homework, because she would have to read, and re-read texts due to tracking and comprehension issues. Gone would be the anxiety she felt while completing exams, and worrying that she would not have ample time to complete them.
In addition to Alyssa reading and comprehending with much more ease, her sports performance has benefited. This past basketball season, she was the top point scorer on her team. Alyssa has shown great improvement in the area of batting during this softball season, as well.
Vision Therapy has changed Alyssa’s life. I am so very thankful to the staff at Family Eyecare Associates. The care and attention that has been given to Alyssa has been first rate. My children have had various medical issues, so we have been involved with many different medical offices. I have never seen an office run more smoothly than Family Eyecare Associates. The staff has been very knowledgeable and helpful, especially in the area of insurance. I can’t begin to thank all of you enough.
The road was a long and sometimes bumpy one, but the end result of Alyssa achieving “normal” vision was certainly worth it! I am hopeful this will make her journey a more smooth one.
With much gratitude,
Amy Coral Mele