A young child who grows up with only one (1) eye will never know the difference. He will develop and learn along with his age group. Older children and adults who lose vision in one eye will need some time to adjust. Having vision in just one eye might not make a big difference to your child over his lifetime. The first few months will be the hardest. With time, your child will adjust and adapt to having one eye that works normally.
What is different about living with one (1) eye?
Vision with one (1) eye is slightly different from vision with 2 eyes.
- Your child has a smaller field of vision than someone with 2 eyes. Field of vision is the amount your child can see without turning his head to look.
- Your child will have different depth perception. Depth perception is the ability to judge how far away something is. You use depth perception many times a day. For example, you use it when you throw and catch a ball, drive a car, pour juice into a cup, reach out to shake someone’s hand and step up or down a curb or stairs.
At first, these vision changes can make it hard to do everyday things. But with time, your child learns to notice things that help him move around safely.
How to adjust to vision with one (1) eye
Your child might adjust naturally to having a smaller field of vision and different depth perception. But it can help to make simple changes to your child’s living areas. Your child can also learn new ways to do things on his own.
Tips for your child with one eye
You can help your child learn to live with one eye using the tips below.
- Use touch to see how far away something is. For example, show your child how to pour liquids by touching the edge of the bottle or pitcher to the edge of the cup. With time, your child will learn new ways to tell where an object is. For example, he might know the size of a drink can from holding one in the past. So he might be able to tell where it is by how big it looks.
- Turn his head more than usual. For example, your child should learn to turn his head more, both ways, to look for traffic before crossing the street.
- Use colored tape to help your child see the edge of stairs. Pick a color that is easy to see. You can put it at the top, bottom, and edge of each step, or whatever works best for your child.
- Teach your child to use the handrail on stairs. He can also slide a foot to the edge of each step to learn where to step.
- Protect the eye with good vision. Your child should wear glasses all the time when he is awake. He should also wear sunglasses outside. Your child should wear safety goggles for sports, crafts, and some chores, such as yard work.
Ways to help the other eye adjust
Here are some ideas to help your child’s working eye get used to seeing by itself. This happens with time, but using these ideas can help it happen faster.
For children and teens
- Walk along a straight line, such as a sidewalk crack or a piece of tape on the floor.
- Play catch. Use a larger, softer ball than normal, so it does not hurt if your child accidentally gets hit. This helps your child learn new ways to tell how far away something is or how fast it is moving.
- Throw a ball or bean bag at a target.
- Reach for different things. This helps practice learning how far away something is.
- Practice turning your head to the side more to see things. For example, you can practice crossing a quiet street at first, turning your head completely both ways to see what is coming.
- Practice your balance. You can swing, roll around, jump, or dance. Do this in a safe place.
For parents of babies and toddlers
- Hold the child with his seeing eye away from your body. This makes your child turn his head to look at your face.
- Put toys that light up or make noise on the side where your child lost his eye. This gets him to turn his head to see them.
- Play with toys that roll across the room, such as cars or balls. Encourage your child to move his head to look at them.
- Put your child’s favorite toys on high shelves, down low off the floor, and in far parts of the room. This will help your child learn to explore the area around him.
- Encourage your child to reach for toys. Try not to hand toys to your child. Reaching for toys helps your child practice eye-hand coordination.
To learn more about helping your child adjust to one eye, call Rehabilitation Services at 901-595-3621. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3621. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2ST JUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3621.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
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