By Linda Conlin, Pro to Pro Managing Editor

When Danielle Crull, owner of A Child’s Eyes in Mechanicsburg, PA, found a stray kitten, little did she know that this cute ball of fur would become the celebrity of her children’s eyewear practice. Since 2018, Truffles has helped children overcome their anxiety about wearing glasses and patching by modeling them herself, and that includes wearing a mask.

It didn’t take long for Danielle to realize that Truffles was smart and trainable, and to see if this kitty would wear glasses. In the same way that she would fit a child, Danielle selected and customized children’s glasses for Truffles. A star was born! Truffles now has an eyewear wardrobe, including sunglasses. When a child comes in for glasses, Truffles models a pair in the same color and the child is suddenly smiling about wearing their own. The same phenomenon occurs when Truffles wears a patch.

Prior to opening her own practice, Danielle worked with a pediatric ophthalmologist, where she discovered there were limited options for children who needed eyewear. With her optical family, husband Eric and their children, opticians Jax, Max and Carson, Danielle shares a passion for children and especially children in glasses. Danielle says, “Children aren’t little adults, they’re kids,” and strives to make eyewear and occlusion therapy comfortable and fun. She wants to remove the stigma that remains for children who wear glasses and patches. She notes that many of her patients have disabilities and other health issues, some of which are resolved with medication or surgery, but that a vision problem such as amblyopia requires a longer process to correct and requires constant motivation for patients and parents to maintain the treatment plan. That’s where family resourcefulness, creativity, and each one’s unique talents come in.

They designed the Patching Incentive Program (P.I.P.) to help children and parents toward a successful occlusion therapy. Parents can download a patching worksheet where, after each day of a child's patching, the child puts the patch on one of the marked spots. When all the spots are filled, they can bring the worksheet to the office for a prize. New themed worksheets are available every two weeks, and parents can access helpful hints and videos every month. Children can also message Truffles through social media with questions and comments, and “she” will message back. They can receive a support package that includes a tee shirt, posters, sample patches, a puzzle, and a note from Truffles. There are trophies for those who complete their course of treatment.

A Master Optician, Danielle is the author of two books for children and parents to help them understand their vision and therapy. Apple Patty Patches is about a little girl who succeeds in her occlusion therapy and includes activity pages for parents and children. Banana Bobby Gets Bifocals takes a fun and innovative approach to help children learn to use bifocals. Transparent blue stickers fit over the bifocal segment, and the book contains hidden images that can be seen only when looking through the blue segment. Children easily learn how to use the lenses, and parents learn to recognize the natural head movements associated with proper bifocal use to monitor their child’s progress.

Amblyopia occurs in early childhood during critical developmental years and is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. However, early treatment usually prevents long-term vision problems, and therein lies Danielle’s passion. She has already begun planning the annual Pumpkin Patch Project for October to raise awareness of amblyopia and vision impairment in children. Parents can help spread awareness by patching one of the eyes of their jack-o'-lanterns and placing it on their porch so trick or treaters with amblyopia and other types of low vision will recognize the home as a “scary free zone.” Participants are invited to post pictures of their patched pumpkins to social media, making it a community event with followers from as far away as Australia.

When she founded A Child’s Eyes in 2002, Danielle wanted an optical shop dedicated especially to the vision needs of children, a place where patients could come from any doctor's office, where families could come and not only get expertly fitted glasses, but also where children could see, touch, and play with everything around them. She wanted an environment where parents would be able to ask as many questions as they needed and where families would be able to encourage one another with their own experiences. Danielle and her family have created just that, with a little help from Truffles.

Learn more about children’s vision with our CE, Unraveling Amblyopia, Strabismus, Phorias and Tropias, at